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Nikolay Ivanovitch Achinov (b. February 21, 1854) was an adventurer and politician from the Russian Empire and the first head of state and effective founder of Russian Somaliland, leading the colony from his ascension in 1889 up to his death in late December.
Nikolay was born on 21 February, 1854, in the town of Penza, Russia. Ethnically he was a Terek Cossack; his family originally hailing from the northeastern Caucasus. His exact origin is disputed; while he was most likely a Russian some theories exist throughout Sagallo that he could have some Circassian or Kabardian blood in him.
Not much of Achinov's youth is well known besides his ethnicity, his place of living; Penza, and that he came from a fairly well-off, upper-class family from the area. He was noted as always having an adventurous spirit, a trait which obviously carried on into his later life as a politician and later colonist working for the Russian Empire. Overall, Achinov's youth wasn't very well documented and is the least known portion of his life.
Adulthood and entry into politics
Not much is known about his early political life besides that he entered politics at a relatively young age, becoming a Burgess (an elected or un-elected official of a municipality) of his hometown, the city of Penza. It is unknown how old he was when he reached this position though it is known that it was before his expedition to Ethiopia in 1884, which he went on when he was only 28 years old. Not much is known about his time as a Burgess of Penza either.
When Achinov was only 28 years old, the Russian government sent him on an expedition to the Ethiopian Empire in order to establish a clerical, political, and diplomatic relationship between the two nations. This would be a relative success as the two empires would eventually become close friends and later allies, as seen in the Italo-Ethiopian War and through the Russo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1898. He would also later go on to sign the treaty mentioned previously as he was the head of Russian Somaliland at that point, the closest Russian possession to the Ethiopian Empire.
The Russian Empire had for a while wanted a port in between its Black Sea holdings and the Pacific coast, and Somaliland was chosen for its relatively mild climate. On 10 December, 1888, Achinov along with 165 other Terek Cossacks left from Russia aboard the Kornilov, which had headed from Odessa to Alexandria. Later they took the Lazarev which had taken to them to Port Said and from there took the Amfitrida, which took him and the Cossacks from Port Said to the gulf of Tadjoura, where they were greeted by Ethiopian priests. He had assured the participants that the sultan of Tadjoura, Mohammed Loitah, had leased him land in the region.
On January 14, the abandoned Egyptian fort of Sagallo was chosen as the base of the expedition, and was later named New Moscow, which would become the capital of Russian Somaliland. Achinov struggled to keep the Cossacks under his control, as some raided the Danakil, stealing a cow and a sheep after driving off the tribesmen with gunfire. Later, several colonists escaped to Obock and told the French of the colony's whereabouts. On 5 February, the Cossacks noticed a cruiser and three gunboats. An ultimatum was issued, but Achinov misunderstood it and did not surrender. The artillery barrage that followed came as a complete surprise for the colonists, leaving six dead and 22 wounded.
Shortly after Achinov's escape from the colony, he headed back to Odessa and later to Moscow, demanding they do something about the situation with France. Despite disagreement from the tsar, most of the government agreed with Achinov's proposal and after the Odessa Conference declared war on France with hopes of taking back the colony in Djibouti. This broke Alexander's reputation as a "peacemaker" and started the Tajuura War ended in 1891, two and a half years after the start of the war in the early months of 1889.
Achinov took part in the battle and siege of the city of Sagallo respectively, taking back the colony from the French and further occupying all of Djibouti. He had no involvement in the Pacific front of the war, but did lead the Battle of Libreville, and helped invade French Equatorial Africa. Two and a half years after the start of the war, the Tajuura War ended in 1891, two and a half years after the start of the war in the early months of 1889. The war ended with the French surrendering French Somaliland to the Russian Empire as well as Reunion and the Comoros.
Head of Russian Somaliland
Nikolay Achinov spent the rest of his life as the Governor of Russian Somaliland. His main policies involved expanding the borders to prevent the other European powers from gaining too much influence in the area and assimilating the natives.. During his time in power, his nation also absorbed the southern portion of Italian Somaliland after his troops fought against the Italians in the Italo-Ethiopian War, helping win the war for the Ethiopian Empire, who would take Eritrea after the war ended.
During his time as Governor, the borders of the Russian Empire's possessions in Africa would expand drastically; at the his death owning parts of Sudan and expanding all the way east to the African Great Lakes. Achinov died in 1904; just two years before Russian Somaliland would diplomatically acquire British Somaliland but at the same time lose some possessions closer to British East Africa and Sudan. He died at the fairly young age of fifty after contracting malaria from a mosquito in one of Russia's possessions closer to the Great Lakes.