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Who's Who: Alexei Polivanov
Updated - Wednesday, 20 February, 2002

Alexei Andreevich Polivanov (1855-1920) served as Russia's competent Minister of War from June 1915 until March 1916 when the Tsarina Alexandra conspired to bring about his removal from office.

Born on 16 March 1855 to an aristocratic family, Polivanov's imperial military service took him to the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 before spending a number of years as a member of the General Staff (1899-1904).  In 1905 he was made Chief of the General Staff.

The following year, 1906, Polivanov was appointed Sukhomlinov's deputy as Minister of War in the wake of the disastrous army performance in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.  He immediately recommended the implementation of wide-ranging military and political reforms.

Falling foul of Sukhomlinov in 1912 however - Polivanov favoured the retention of fortress defences against the former's wishes - he was dismissed his post, with the royal court equally suspicious of Polivanov's apparent liberal leanings.

From 1912 until 1915 Polivanov served on the State Council.  In June 1915 he replaced (and connived in the dismissal of) Sukhomlinov, replacing him as Minister of War.  Polivanov promptly set about transforming the Russian army's system of training, and attempted to tackle the army's chronic communications and supply systems with some success.

When Polivanov became aware of Tsar Nicholas II's intention of personally leading his armies from the front in September 1915 - thereby replacing Grand Duke Nikolai - he made strenuous (and ultimately unsuccessful) efforts to dissuade him.

This merely served to alienate the Tsarina who henceforth set about conspiring to ensure his removal from office, which duly came about in March 1916.

Playing no further significant role for the remainder of the war Polivanov subsequently offered his services to the Red Army in February 1920, serving at the Soviet-Polish peace talks in Riga that year, where he died of typhus on 25 September at the age of 65.

A "blimp" was a word applied to an observation balloon.


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