Fazil Bakhshaliev, Ph.D. (Hist.), Associate Professor, Baku State University (Baku, Azerbaijan).
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE IN TRANSCAUCASIA: AGRARIAN POLICY OF THE LATE 19TH-EARLY 20TH CENTURIES
The author analyzes the Russian Empire’s agrarian policy in Transcaucasia at the turn of the 20th century and also examines the factors that made peasant reform and the new rules of land allotment inevitable.
Keywords: The Russian Empire, Transcaucasia, agrarian policy, village, reform, landlords, redemption payments, land allotments, peace mediators.
Peasant reform in the Caucasus started later than elsewhere in the Russian Empire and did not do much to make landowners out of peasants: the huge redemption payments were beyond their earning power.
Instead, the reform made them “temporarily obligatory peasants”; by the turn of the 20th century, their vague status could no longer be tolerated: the government had to act fast to avoid further complications.
Private Ownership of Land after the Peasant Reform of 14 May, 1870
By 1864, peasant reform finally reached Transcaucasia; serfdom was abolished in the Tiflis and Kutaisi provinces. In the Muslim provinces, the process went on for seven years, from 14 May, 1870, when the Regulations concerning settlers (poselyane) were published, until 1877.
The reform, however, did nothing to improve the life of peasants: they paid for the allotted land with labor service. The conditions of labor service proved to be much more favorable for the settlers in the eastern part of Transcaucasia: they acquired their household plots for free. In the Baku and Elizavetpol provinces (with the exception of the Qazakh district), they paid 30 kopeks per 1 desyatina (1.09 hectares.—Ed.), a regulation limited to estates in……………