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  • Vladimir Dzhunkovskii:Witness for the Defense
  • Richard G. Robbins Jr. (bio)
Vladimir Fedorovich Dzhunkovskii, Vospominaniia. Ed. A. L. Panina. 2 vols. Moscow: Izdatel′stvo imeni Sabashnikovykh, 1997. 700 + 686 pp. ISBN 5-8242-0043-2 and 5-8242-0044-00.

If Vladimir Fedorovich Dzhunkovskii is remembered at all today, it is as the "honest policeman" who eased the double agent Roman Malinovskii out of his position as head of the Bolshevik delegation in the Fourth Duma, and who vainly sought to warn Nicholas II about Grigorii Rasputin's scandalous activities only to be sacked for his pains.1 Yet on the eve of World War I, Dzhunkovskii was widely recognized as a talented administrator, a rising star in the ranks of tsarist officialdom. As aide-de-camp to the emperor and later a member of his suite, he enjoyed imperial favor, and his reputation for honesty and decency earned him broad public support. Having served a successful term as governor of Moscow province, Dzhunkovskii assumed the two positions that placed him at the head of the empire's internal security apparatus – Assistant Minister of Internal Affairs and Commander of the Corps of Gendarmes – and appeared to be headed for even higher posts.

After his fall from power in 1915, Dzhunkovskii lived a life in the shadows, but he did not accept oblivion. He served his country where and while he could and wrote his voluminous memoirs, significant portions of which constitute the two volumes under review. Skillfully prepared by A. L. Panina, with a substantial and informative introduction by Zinaida Ivanovna Peregudova and Irina Mikhailovna Pushkareva, this edition will do much to restore Vladimir Fedorovich to the public mind and open up some new perspectives on the last years of imperial Russia. Students of tsarist politics and the secret police will come across almost no startling revelations. Dzhunkovskii's Vospominaniia have [End Page 635] long provided rich fare for "archive rats" working in these areas, and there is an extensive list of publications that make reference to the vast typescript held in the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF).2 On the other hand, those investigating the history of turn-of-the-century Moscow and of Russian public life and culture may find these memoirs surprisingly useful. In the figure of Dzhunkovskii himself, readers encounter a man in the Stolypin mold, a conservative monarchist committed to reform and a more open style of politics. His life and work suggest that just prior to World War I a new generation of high administrators was emerging, prepared to take their country in different directions.

* * *

Vladimir Fedorovich Dzhunkovskii was born in 1865 and died in 1938, but the published volumes cover only the decade from 1905 to 1915. This was the time of Dzhunkovskii's most intense political activity and success. Having served 14 years as adjutant to Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich during the latter's tenure as governor-general of Moscow, Dzhunkovskii was suddenly pushed forward by the tumultuous events of 1905. That stormy year saw the assassination of Sergei Aleksandrovich and Vladimir Fedorovich's appointment, first as vice-governor and then as acting governor of Moscow province. The first Russian revolution would destroy many governors, but Dzhunkovskii, who had never held a significant state office before, came through the crisis undamaged. Vladimir Fedorovich usually preferred compromise to conflict, so he was fortunate that the bloody task of suppressing the armed uprising in Moscow fell to Governor-General Fedor Vasil'evich Dubasov and the military. But even in the earliest days of his tenure he displayed bold initiative in keeping Moscow's water supply operating during the general strike (1: 71–82), and he skillfully handled disturbances at some of the city's prisons (1: 88–90).

Once he had a firmer grip on his position, Dzhunkovskii plunged into the work of governing Moscow province with an energy and obvious pleasure that [End Page 636] reminds an American reader of Theodore Roosevelt and Fiorello La Guardia. Vladimir Fedorovich was ever eager to display the personal touch, turning official inspections of outlying regions, which many saw as mere formalities, into opportunities to meet people of all classes and to press the flesh...


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