Yakov Sighovaryin

Portrait of Yakov Sighovaryin

8th Premier of Alaska

Predecessor Sergey Kolov
Successor Kirill Osopek

Commander in Chief of Asian Fleet

Successor Kirill Zukhov

Duma Representative

Predecessor Ivan Putenko
Successor Ivan Labayev
Born December 1, 1891
Died April 4, 1961
Spouse Katerina Sighovaryina
Political Party Center
Profession Admiral
Yakov Nikolayevich Sighovaryin (Russ: Яков Николаевич Сиховарин) (12/1/1891-4/4/1961) was one of the most influential statesmen of the 20th century, serving as the 8th Premier of Alaska, holding office between 1944-1960, the longest single term any Premier has held in Alaskan history (outserving legendary Boris Anasenko by a year). Sighovaryin's term in office was characterized by the Alaskan-Siberian War, the modernization and socialization of the Alaskan economy and government, the consolidation by Sighovaryin of power in Alaska whilst simultaneously expanding the electorate to create a more democratic legislative state, the drawdown of importance of the military in Alaska, the expansion of the oil industry, the early stages of the Kialgory Industrial Boom, and a closening of relations with the United States.

Sighovaryin is regarded as the "Modernizer of Alaska," and the man who brought the Empire of Alaska into what would one day become the NATO bloc. His stalwart stances in the Constitutional Crises of 1951 and 1956 are hailed as some of the most levelheaded leadership in the 20th century, and his friendship with Czar Alexander I is regarded as "legendary pragmatism." Most of the major leadership in Alaskan government for almost thirty years after his death lived in his shadow and had earned their experience during or were influenced by his Premiership.

Early Life

Yakov Sighovaryin was born to Nikolay Sighovaryin in 1891 in Petropavlovsk, where his father was a naval commander. Sighovaryin had two elder brothers, Nikolay Nikolayevich (1887-1925) and Ivan Nikolayevich (1888-1926), both who would die in the Pacific War, and a younger sister, Katya Nikolaevna (1893-1979).

Sighovaryin's father died in 1910 during a ship accident and the family was relocated with the eldest brothers as stewards to Sitka, where all three brothers attended the Alaskan Royal Naval Academy. All three brothers rose in the ranks as capable officers and Ivan became a protege of the legendary Admiral Vladislav Ruschenenko - Ivan was aboard the Subutov when it was torpedoed in 1926 with Ruschenenko, and every crewman perished in the frigid Bering Sea.

Yakov's elder brothers died early in the war during Japanese torpedo attacks and he himself was gravely injured whilst overseeing an installation in the Aleuts. Sighovaryin survived by escaping by rowboat to a nearby, Alaskan-held island, where he was tended to and nursed back to health. Sighovaryin was always highly critical of the Kodiak Accords, which he considered "cowardly."

Sighovaryin continued his admirable naval career and was awarded the Cross of Courage in 1931, when he was promoted to Admiral, and Sighovaryin spent a great deal of time as an instructor at the Naval Academy in Sitka until he was given command of the Asian Fleet in 1938.

Sighovaryin obtained a seat on the Duma in 1941 thanks to his respect amongst his peers in the navy and was often highly critical of the Duma's ignorance of the growing Siberian threat. Admiral Sighovaryin declined a position as Chairman of the Navy in 1942 due to his belief that it was a dead-end position - simultaneously, he became more and more attached to the conservative leadership in the Duma, headed by Vyacheslav Karakov, despite his own moderate stance on most issues.

The Siberian-Alaskan War shook the country after the invasion of the Asian oblasts in 1943 by their former ally, Communist Siberia, and a Marxist fury erupted across Alaska. Sighovaryin personally detested communism but agreed with the need for moderate liberal reform in many parts of the government. The coalition government headed by Sergey Kolov, the incumbent Premier, was battered on all sides by an invasion by an enemy Kolov had miscalculated as a friend, and due to the reactionary response to Kolov's own sympathies with the Marxist movement. Kolov agreed to stage a general election no later than 1945, buying himself time to groom a successor for an election he was certain to lose, but his coalition collapsed in December of 1943 and in February of 1944, with the Siberians pummeling the Alaskan forces in Asia, the Duma filed an almost unanimous vote of no confidence and Kolov was ousted.


Siberian-Alaskan War and 1940's

While Vyacheslav Karakov had designs on the Premiership, many liberals in the Duma were reluctant to elect him due to his reactionary, hard-right philosophies. Instead, the Duma elected Sighovaryin, who had no executive experience beyond his two years as head of the Asian Fleet, as the compromise candidate on February 20th. The idea was for Sighovaryin to remain in power until the general election in the summer of 1945, when the idealogical makeup of the Duma would be more concrete and the body could elect a new premier.

Sighovaryin 2

Yakov Sighovaryin in 1945

Sighovaryin knew that powerful liberal members of the Duma, in particular Boris Duschelenkov and Yuri Edmarovksy, were licking their lips in anticipation of toppling Sighovaryin in the next general election, and that Karakov was ready to abandon him at the drop of a hat. As a result, Sighovaryin made it his priority to reach out to young conservatives and right-leaning moderates elected in the local elections of 1943 and became the first Premier to found a political party, the Center Party, while in office. The scattered and sporadic political parties of the Duma had coalesced into two opposing but weak alliances of liberals and conservatives; Sighovaryin hoped to attract a slew of moderates to his side in order to weaken the liberals who sought to return to power but also to undermine the outdated, Anasenko-era ideas on government held up by the right wing faction.

Sighovaryin instantly jumped into his role as the commander of the Alaskan military, meeting with Czar Alexander I for only the second time in his life and being given "total and unmitigated control of Asian forces." Sighovaryin formed a War Cabinet of highly capable generals and admirals he had befriended during his time of service and swept out dozens of entrenched and corrupt military bureaucrats throughout 1944, replacing them with his own trusted proteges and political allies he had taught at the Naval Academy in the 1930's or served with. Sighovaryin's purge of the officer corps effectively eradicated the long-entrenched positions often handed down from father to son since the close of the Alaskan-American War and reenergized the military leadership, removing many of the officers who were loyal to friends on the Duma or to individual businessmen or families.

Sighovaryin also campaigned heavily throughout the country in 1944 in the leadup to the June 1945 general elections. He condemned Duschelenkov as a Marxist and, in the biting cold wind on December 24th, 1945, visited a massive garrison of Alaskan soldiers in Petropavlovsk and gave a rousing speech. Known as the "Asian Address," the speech was seen as the turning point for the embattled Sighovaryin. He cut a huge deal on corporate taxes with the conservatives, earning him the support of the mighty Industrial Party, and his coalition grew strong enough to tackle the liberals and hard-right conservatives the following June.

As the tide in Asia turned in favor of the Alaskans after the decisive victory at Koralensk in March 1945, Sighovaryin's centrist coalition gained steam. The 1945 general election was seen as an aligning election, similar to 1979 or 1994, in that it cemented the centrist coalition as the crucial power-sharing mechanism for the next half century. Sighovaryin's centrists had won a huge victory but no single branch of the Duma - liberal, moderate or conservative - could claim a majority. Sighovaryin, using his influence with a slew of young Duma members elected in '45 to force a deal with Karakov, joined the conservatives in return for a continued hold of the Premiership and Karakov's ascension to President of the Duma.

The Siberian War was eventually won through steady Alaskan attrition of Siberian forces and with American supplies. Sighovaryin in 1948 travelled to Washington to meet with American President Prescott Bush to sign a treaty authorizing an Alaskan-American Pipeline, which would bring oil south from the Alaskan Yukon to the American state of Pacifica, resulting in a huge boom of the Sahalee-Wamash metropolitan area that Alaska had tried to conquer just sixty years prior.

With his eventual ceasefire agreement with Siberia in 1949 and having defeated the liberals again in the November 1949 general election to only strengthen his moderate party and the now-mighty coalition he had with the right-wing, Sighovaryin set his sights upon making the 1950's a new decade of prosper.

Domestic Policy during 1950's

Sighovaryin had really not enforced a great deal of domestic policy during the 1940's beyond a tax reform and an economic focus on the total warfare of the era. During the 1950's, however, Sighovaryin began to focus on moderate reform. He and Czar Alexander I had both suffered assassination attempts in the 1940's and in 1950, Sighovaryin was shot twice in the abdomen during a speech in the growing industrial city of Kialgory. He survived and declared a "War on Marxism," and to execute his plans in 1951 he formed the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (Committee of State Security), or KGB, an intelligence branch of the federal government designed to combat covert threats both foreign and domestic. In 1952, Sighovaryin nationalized the police force, dividing up the local enforcement responsibility between the precincts themselves and regional chairmen, and making all subservient to the Minister of Security. The formation of the Ministry of Security as well as the KGB were the hot topics in the 1953 general election, but Sighovaryin's own popularity resulted in a whopping victory for his personal coalition - the Center Party and the Moderate Party - over the liberals, and gave Sighovaryin an even stronger mandate.
Aleksandrgrad Street

Hotel Aleksandrgrad, 1954

Due to the unblinking loyalty of his coalition members thanks to generous graft passed down from the Premier in form of lavish houses, contacts within the oil and resource mining industries and generous pay and tax breaks for service in the Duma, Sighovaryin was able to run the country as an effective dictator, albeit a well-liked and benevolent one. When in 1955 Sighovaryin was privately criticized on a state visit by American President Richard Russell over being one of the few industrialized democracies in which women could note vote or hold office, the Premier immediately decreed a voting reform act that, while roundly opposed by many in the Duma, was passed by a wide majority, and women voted for the first time in Alaskan history in the 1957 general elections.

The mid-1950's were a time of ambitious reform under Sighovaryin and his closest allies in the conservative government, Kirill Osopek and Igor Golovko, and his moderate friends, Stanislav Mergeyev and Ivan Bukhov. In 1954, Sighovaryin established a national health care initiative that while grossly inadequate was a major step towards the nationalized health care enacted in 1996. Sighovaryin passed, with ease, moderate agendas through the Duma in 1955 and 1956 including an expansion of the public secondary school system by almost 75%, a doubling of the size of the elementary school system, and a nationalization of the university system and the subsequent grants to build 40 new universities in Alaska by 1970. Sighovaryin also passed a law that was meant to increase literacy to 90% nationwide by 1980 and a measure designed to incorporate the oft-excluded Aleut or Inuit minorities into the Alaskan populace through vast education initiatives.

Alaskan Plant

Industrial plant near Mikhailgrad, 1956

Sighovaryin's greatest success during the 1950's, however, was the 1952 re-nationalization of the country's oil reserves, as opposed to the nationalization of the industry itself, as had been attempted by Anasenko. Instead of buying contracts to drill from local landowners and the local governments, companies, especially foreign ones, had to negotiate contracts with the federal Alaskan government directly. By 1960, the oil revenue in Alaska had tripled that of its 1950 levels and cities such as Evgenigrad, Novostroya and Mikhailgrad, along with their new suburbs, were booming thanks to the rise in the natural resource industry.

This period of Alaskan industry was, of course, aided largely by the rollback of Marxism and the gradual aligning of many liberals with the moderate coalition, so that the 1957 general election resulted in Sighovaryin standing unopposed in his election for Premier.

Foreign Policy during 1950's

Sighovaryin, while an articulate and well-liked statesman, disliked what he referred to as, "diplomatic fawning" and often leaned on his Foreign Ministers, Feodor Mishkin and Gennadiy Sarov, to drive all diplomatic matters for him. Sighovaryin, however, was not as averse as the reclusive Alexander I in making overseas journeys or host visiting heads of state. Unlike the future Czar Alexander III, who was a notorious playboy and lover of overseas travel and policy, Alexander I was a domestically-minded monarch who rarely met with foreign leaders, feeling that that lay within the realm of responsbility of his Premier.

Sighovaryin had a notably strong relationship with American President Prescott Bush, once referring to Bush as a "possible future hunting friend," and was on very good terms with Japanese Emperor Hirohito, whom he arranged a landmark trade deal with in 1954.

During most the 1950's, Sighovaryin grew closer and closer to the American camp, due to his personal dislike of French Canadian Governeur-General Desmond de Roybert and his distrust of French Imperial designs on Alaskan naval power in the Altantic. He made sure to expand the navy almost by double during his tenure, and established major new ports in Greenland to support the Alaskan Atlantic Fleet in the 1950's.

Yakov N. Sighovaryin, 1956

While expanding the navy, however, Sighovaryin also drew down on the bloated standing land army and prioritized its allottment to the Asian Frontier, Greenland and near Canada, feeling that his bureaucratic reorganization of the national police and KGB could help replace services the military once served in domestic affairs. By 1960, the Alaskan Imperial Army was 300,000 strong, as opposed to the 1950 levels of 550,000 with another 250,000 in reserve. He also invested heavily in importing American tanks and he tripled the size of the air force with the introduction of the F-2 jet fighter and B-40 jet bomber, as opposed to the older, French-designed propeller fighters and bombers used in the war with Siberia.

Constitutional Crises of 1951 and 1956

Perhaps at no point did Sighovaryin's pragmatic, moderate method of rule show more than in his struggles with a pair of constitutional crises in the 1950's. In 1951, the Duma deadlocked over a bill to outlaw Marxism completely. The conservatives, with support of both Sighovaryin and the typically hands-off Czar Alexander, supported the measure to make the teachings of Karl Marx illegal within the borders of Alaska, and to make the participation in Marxist activities a criminal and jailable offense.

The liberal wing of the Duma, meanwhile, believed that the law would be used by Sighovaryin, who was already beginning to usurp unprecedented executive command, to jail liberal politicians who disagreed with him. When it became clear that the liberals did not have the numbers to completely block the measure, they staged a walkout and refused to return, thus jeapordizing the laws of the Alaskan constitution stipulating that a law can only be passed if three-quarters of the Duma is present to vote on it.

While many conservatives, especially the aging Karakov, urged Sighovaryin to pass the bill anyways despite a significant portion of the body refusing to participate in the vote, the Premier knew that if he violated constitutional law, the Duma would likely be dissolved and a general election would be forced within six months. When Alexander I suggested to Sighovaryin that a dissolution may be the only viable method to break the stalemate and force the issue, Sighovaryin was concerned about the economic and political impacts a government stoppage would involve. Sighovaryin met with some of his closest aides and tailored a newer version of the bill to avoid the erstwhile crisis.

In 1956, Sighovaryin was struck with another constitutional crisis, in which the Duma bluntly refused to bend to the Czar's initiative to allow Native Alaskans the right to vote, citing that the right to vote was reserved for Russian-speaking Alaskans only, and that the suffrage granted to women was liberal enough - even some liberals had opposed women's suffrage. When Alexander I threatened to refuse an invitation to form a government following the upcoming 1957 general election, the Duma in turned motioned to postpone indefinitely the general election, making sure that the monarch was aware that so long as he insisted women and Native Alaskans vote in the upcoming election, that election would not occur.

Sighovaryin, aware that Alexander would dissolve the body instantly, turned to the Patriarch, at the time Cyril I, and pressured him to issue a Church Creed. With the Creed issued, which legitimized the suffrage of women and Native Alaskans, the Duma was forced into temporary compliance, although they threatened to veto the Creed. Sighovaryin realized his blunder and quickly forced a government stoppage to postpone the veto vote on the Creed, fearing that it would set a precedent and completely remove the legitimacy of the Patriarchy as an arbiter of government. Thanks to his planned government stoppage, Sighovaryin was able to negotiate a deal to take the Native Alaskan suffrage measure off the table for a minimum of ten years if the Duma kept the women's suffrage out of a withdrawal of law vote. The compromise reached, Sighovaryin once again stopped a major constitutional issue from emerging and causing deeper problems, although he set his own negative precedent unwittingly by opening up forced stoppages and the threats of dissolution as tools Czars and Premiers could and would use liberally in the 1980's and early 1990's during heated disagreements.

Relationship with Alexander I and Growth of Coalition Politics

Resignation and Death

Throughout 1960, it was obvious that both Alexander I and Sighovaryin were suffering from declining health. Sighovaryin even went so far as to begin grooming his political ally Kirill Osopek to succeed him in the event he were forced to resign or if he died.

On October 23rd, 1960, Czar Alexander I passed away in his sleep at the age of 81 in Sitka and his son, Alexander II, was coronated two days later. On October 26th, the day after the coronation of the new Czar, Sighovaryin travelled from Aleksandrgrad to Sitka by ship for the funeral of the dead monarch and upon arriving in Sitka, went directly to the Swan Palace to see the new Czar and officially tendered his resignation. Alexander II, who was notably a more liberal-leaning and directly involved Czar than his father, accepted it, and two hours later Sighovaryin gave his farewell address to the Duma, shaking hands with Osopek as his successor took the podium immediately afterwards to be sworn in as Premier.

Sighovaryin began growing ill and so he returned home to Petropavlovsk, feeling that his presence in the Duma was no longer necessary and out of fear that he "cast a shadow over my successor and impede his ability to be the head of government."

Not long after returning to Petropavlovsk, Sighovaryin fell ill and passed away on April 4th, 1961 of what would later be revealed to be pancreatic cancer. On his deathbed, Sighovaryin commented that his greatest regret was, "Not retiring earlier, so I could have enjoyed the last years of my life free of those idiots in Sitka." In notes collected from his private journal, it was revealed that Sighovaryin had grown an intense distaste for the Duma and its members of all coalitions in his final two and a half years in power.

Sighovaryin's body was preserved and flown to Aleksandrgrad, where he was met by upwards 150,000 mourners from all corners of Alaska and was given stirring eulogies at the Grand Cathedral of Aleksandrgrad by Alexander II, Premier Osopek, his old friend Prescott Bush, and even a representative of the Emperor Hirohito, who read a letter written by the Emperor and who brought a gift of a sword to be placed in Sighovaryin's coffin. Sighovaryin was delivered his last rites by Patriarch Pyotr II himself, the only Premier to be given his last rites by Alaska's Patriarch.

Yakov Sighovaryin was finally permanently buried in Petropavlovsk, having held the longest term of service (16 years) in Alaskan history and as the first and last Premier to have been born in the Asian Oblasts.


Yakov Sighovaryin has an uncertain legacy both in Alaska and abroad, with opinions of him driven largely by political orientation and economic position.