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 Yemelyan Pugachyov

Born:   1742
Deceased:   January 21 [O.S. January 10] 1775

Leader of peasant revolt in Russia 1773-1775


Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachyov came from a poor Cossack family. He was born in the then Little Russian (Ukrainian) Cossack village of Zimoveiskaya of the Don Region (now Pugachyovskaya Village of the Volgograd Region). Stepan Razin was earlier born at the same place. Yemelyan Pugachyov participated in the Seven-year War of 1756-1763, as well as the Russian-Turkish War of 1768-1774. For his military services and personal bravery he was given the rank of cornet (junior commissioned rank in the Cossack cavalry). Constantly facing the injustice and oppression he arrived at the understanding of struggle against serfdom that existed in Russia then. He was an ardent defender of rights of the oppressed people. Repeatedly he acted as a petitioner on behalf of peasants and Cossacks. Several times he was committed to prison for that and managed to escape several times.

Finally, he arrived at River Yaik and there, having posed as the wonderfully escaped Emperor Peter III, stirred up a peasant revolt in 1773. Pugachyov promised to peasants and Cossacks, to all common people who were oppressed and offended by autocracy, that he would restore justice, liberty, freedom of worship, give land, etc. The people exhausted under the burden of numerous requisitions and suffering from arbitrariness of landowners accepted Pugachyov as the liberator and began to join his army. The revolt was promptly expanding and the government undertook serious attempts to suppress it, but Pugachyov showed himself as a talented commander. He contrived to organize yesterday's peasants into a regular army supplied with artillery, generated the staff, and seriously defeated the governmental armies a few times. Only after hurling large units of active armed forces into combat with Pugachyov, did the government of Catherine II managed to suppress the revolt. However, the failure of the revolt was mostly due to the treachery of a group of Cossacks, who delivered Pugachyov up in order to deserve forgiveness of the empress. Pugachyov was condemned and executed in Moscow in 1775. But even after his execution struggle of separate groups revolting against imperial armies proceeded.

Tags: Russian history Yemelyan Pugachyov    

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