Benkendorf, Aleksandr Khristoforovich
Born June 23 (July 4), 1781, or 1783; died Sept. 23 (Oct. 5), 1844. Russian statesman, count (from 1832), and one of the main champions of the reactionary domestic policy of Nicholas I.
He was a participant in the wars with France (1805–07) and Turkey (1806–12), the Patriotic War of 1812, and the foreign campaigns of 1813–14. From 1819 to 1821 he was chief of staff of a guards corps. In 1821 he presented a report on the “Union of Prosperity” to Alexander I. He commanded cavalry involved in the suppression of the Decembrist uprising on Dec. 14,1825, and also served as a member of the Investigating Commission that dealt with the Decembrist affair (1825). In January 1826 he formulated a project for the organization of a central, political investigative organ (“ministry of police”), which was adopted in principle by Nicholas I with the establishment of the Third Section. From July 1826 to the end of his life Benkendorf was the chief gendarme and the head of the Third Section of His Majesty’s Own Imperial Chancery. At the instruction of the tsar he personally supervised A. S. Pushkin and was responsible for his persecution. He exercised great influence over Nicholas I and was his most trusted high official. Part of Benkendorf s memoirs were published in Russkii arkhiv (1865, no. 2).