Mikhail Gregorjovich Tchernaiev - Encyclopedia

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MIKHAIL GREGORJOVICH TCHERNAIEV (1828-1898), Russian general, a member of a noble family, was born on the 24th of October 1828. Educated at the Nicholas Staff College, he entered the army in 1847, and distinguished himself in the Crimean war and in the Caucasus. After serving as divisional chief of the staff in Poland, he went to Orenburg in 1858 as assistant to the commander of the line of the Syr-Darya, and the following year commanded an expedition to support the Kirghiz tribes on the borders of the Sea of Aral against the Khivans. He did duty on the staff of the army of the Caucasus for a time, and returned to Orenburg as chief of the staff. In 1864, having reached the rank of major-general, he made his famous march with 1000 men across the steppes of Turkestan to Chimkent in Khokand, to meet another Russian column from Semipalatinsk, in Siberia, in conjunction with which he successfully stormed Chimkent, and then unsuccessfully attacked Tashkent, 80 miles farther south. Wintering at Chimkent, he captured Tashkent the following year. This was contrary to his instructions, and although he was received in St Petersburg with enthusiasm, and presented with a sword of honour by the emperor, he was not again employed in the military service, and retired from it in July 1874. He bought, and edited with great success, the Russkiy Mir in Slavonic interests, devoting himself to the Panslavic idea. In the summer of 1876 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Servian army, but on entering Turkey was driven back by Osman Pasha, who followed him into Servia, defeating him at Zayechar and Yavor in July, and the campaign in Servia proved disastrous. He rashly proclaimed Milan king of Servia in September, and in October Aleksinats and Deligrad were in the hands of the Turks, and the road open to Belgrade. An armistice was concluded, and Tchernaiev resigned his command. In 1877 he visited Austria in connexion with his propaganda, but was expelled, and lived for a time in France. In 1879 he organized a Bulgarian rising, but was arrested at Adrianople and sent back to Russia. He succeeded Kaufmann (q.v.) as governor of Turkestan in 1882, but his aggressive policy led to his recall two years later, when he was appointed a member of the council of war at St Petersburg. In 1886 his opposition to the Central Asian Military railway caused him to lose his seat in the council. He died on the 16th of August 1898, at his country seat in the province of Mogilev.

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