Russian Assault on Persian Nascent Democracy

  January 30, 2022   Read time 2 min
Russian Assault on Persian Nascent Democracy
On June 23, 1906, Russia achieved its goal. Colonel Liakhoff, accompanied by six other Russian officers and their men, drove up to the parliament building, divided his troops, and placed his guns in positions facing the nationalists guarding the building.

The Russian officers gave the order to fire on the building. Many nationalists were killed. Hâj Mirzâ Ibrâhîm, one of the eight nationalist leaders whom the Shah wished to expel from Tehran, was killed resisting capture. Malik al-Mutikkalimin, the nationalist orator, and Mirzâ Jahàngïr Khän, the editor of the newspaper Sür-i Isräfti, were strangled.

For several days the homes of nationalists and their sympathizers were bombarded and looted. The parliament building was reduced to ruins, and the records of the Majlis were destroyed. In recognition of all these accomplishments Liakhoff was appointed the military governor of Tehran. He practically ruled the capital until the “Nationalist Victory” of July 16, 1909.

Russia's enmity toward the Constitutional regime was evidenced not only in assisting the destruction of the First Majlis but also in causing the overthrow of the Second Majlis. For the betterment of the financial administration of Iran the Second Majlis, on June 13, 1911, passed a law favored by Morgan Shuster, the American financial adviser, to establish a central organization to be known as the Office of the Treasurer-General of Iran.

This office was to be responsible for the collection and disbursement of all revenues and government receipts, from whatever source. The very day that the law was passed the Russian Legation openly declared war upon it and the Russian Minister announced that the Belgian Customs employees should not be subjected to the control or supervision of the American TreasurerGeneral, and even went so far as to threaten to have Russian troops seize the customs houses in the north and put Russian officials in charge.

Russia's opposition stemmed from the fact that the law signaled the determination of the Majlis to effect financial reforms and emancipation. Financial independence could not be tolerated by Russia, which had managed to attain political ascendancy in Tehran through the control of Iranian finances, a control which Russia had maintained ever since it gave Muzaffar al-Din Shah the first loan in 1900.** By enacting the law of June 13, 1911, the Majlis was granting Shuster “full Powers” over finances. For this reason the Russian war with the Majlis took “the form of a cantankerously vindictive opposition” to Shuster.

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