a group of reactionaries, primarily large landholders, who at the beginning of the 20th century exerted considerable influence on Russia’s foreign policy. The clique was organized in early 1898 to found a joint stock company for exploiting the natural riches of Korea and Manchuria. It included Grand Duke Aleksandr Mikhailovich, A. M. Bezobrazov (who was given the honorary title of state secretary in May 1903), Rear Admiral A. M. Abaza, the entrepreneur V. M. Vonliarliarskii, and the large landholders N. P. Balashov, M. V. Rodzianko, Prince I.I. Vorontsov, Count F. F. Sumarokov-El’ston, V. K. Plehve, and others. On the basis of a loan from the private funds of the royal family the so-called Russian Timber Industry Society was formed for operations on the Yalu River in 1901. By 1903 it had suffered financial collapse. The Bezobrazov clique advocated an adventuristic and aggressive policy line in the Far East and seizure of Manchuria and Korea, and they favored a “short successful war” with Japan in order to ward off imminent revolution in Russia. The clique gained great influence on Nicholas II and in 1903 held a dominant position in the ruling circles. An opponent of the Bezobrazov clique, S. Iu. Witte, was relieved of his post as minister of finance in August 1903, and a vicegerency for the Far East was set up in July 1903 as well as a Special Committee for Far Eastern Affairs from September 1903 to June 1905. The severe straining of relations with Japan led to a weakening of the Bezobrazov clique, and the defeat of tsarism in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 brought the clique’s downfall.
REFERENCESRomanov, B. A. Ocherki diplomaticheskoi istorii russko-iaponskoi voiny: 1895–1907, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Witte, S. Iu. Vospominaniia, vol. 2. Moscow, 1960.
“Bezobrazovskii kruzhok letom 1904 g.” Krasnyi arkhiv, 1926, no. 4.
Avarin, V. Ia. Lmperializm ν Man’chzhurii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1934.
S. A. ZALESSKII