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Mirsky

Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky.

Prince Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky (1857 - ?) was Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire in the 1890s. In 1894 Sviatopolk-Mirsky negotiated a mineral concession with the Mexican corporation Kramer Associates. Under the terms of the concession, K.A. would be permitted to prospect in the Yukon region of Alaska for copper "and whatever other minerals might be found." K.A. would pay all costs, while sharing any profits evenly with the Russian government. All K.A. employees in Alaska would have to be acceptable to the Russian government, and any mining towns established would be under Russian political control.

Instead of finding copper, a party of prospectors under Winston Carew discovered gold in July 1896. Although Tsar Nicholas II sent a telegram offering his personal congratulations to Carew and to K.A. President Diego Cortez y Catalán, the Russian government had no intention of allowing a foreign company to control the Alaskan gold fields. On 21 October 1897, Sviatopolk-Mirsky drafted a memorandum to Cortez in which he claimed that the Alaskan mineral concession covered only copper. "Since little or no copper has been discovered in the Yukon region, the mines, when opened, will be controlled by the Imperial government." K.A. would be allowed to operate the mines, "for which the company would, of course, be well-compensated."

Cortez refused to give up control of the Alaskan gold fields, and by the spring of 1898 he was able to manipulate the U.S.M. into war with Russia. The Mexican army quickly defeated the Russian garrisons in Alaska in the summer of 1898, and by October had occupied all of Alaska except the Aleutian Islands.

With the gold fields under his control, Cortez sought to end the war. He contacted the Japanese government, requesting its assistance in mediating negotiations. Japanese Premier Masayoshi Matsukata agreed, and on 5 January 1899 the Japanese ambassador to Russia, Baron Keigo Kiyoura, met with Sviatopolk-Mirsky to discuss possible peace negotiations. Sviatopolk-Mirsky was willing to open negotiations, and suggested Tokyo as a meeting place. However, the terms set by Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión were so harsh that the proposed negotiations never took place.

Sobel makes no further mention of Prince Sviatopolk-Mirsky after the abortive Japanese mediation effort. It is likely that he either fled Russia after the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1900, or died in the course of it.


Sobel's sources for the career of Prince Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky are Andrew Stirling's The Secret History of the Great Northern War (London, 1923); Carl Needham's The Great Northern War (New York, 1963); and Knute Neuberger's The Background of the Great Northern War (London, 1965).


IOW Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky was Minister of the Interior under Tsar Nicholas II from July 1904 to February 1905. He was replaced in the wake of the Bloody Sunday massacre and retired from public service.

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