Lavr Kornilov

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Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov (Russian: Лавр Гео́ргиевич Корни́лов, IPA: [ˈlavr kɐrˈnʲiləf]; August 18, 1870–April 13, 1918) was a senior Russian army general during World War I and the ensuing Russian Civil War. He is today best remembered for the Kornilov Affair, an unsuccessful endeavor in August/September 1917 that purported to strengthen Alexander Kerensky's Provisional Government, but which led to Kerensky eventually having Kornilov arrested and charged with attempting a coup d'état.


Pre-revolutionary career

Originally a Cossack born in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Russian Turkestan (now Kazakhstan) in a family of Cossack Chorąży and his wife of Kazakh origin, Kornilov was a career intelligence officer in the Imperial Russian army. Between 1890 and 1904 he led several exploration missions in Eastern Turkestan, Afghanistan and Persia, learned several Central Asian languages, and wrote detailed reports about his observations. During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 he was awarded the Cross of St. George for bravery and promoted to the rank of colonel.

He served as military attache in China from 1907–11 and with a rank of major general commanded an infantry division at the start of World War I. During heavy fighting he was captured by the Austrians in April 1915, when his division became isolated from the rest of the Russian forces. After his capture, Field Marshall Conrad, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian Army, made a point of meeting him in person. Being a major general he was a high value prisoner of war, but in July 1916 Kornilov managed to escape back to Russia and return to duty. Kornilov was critical of the Russian monarchy and, after the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II he was given command of the Petrograd Military District in March 1917. In July, after commanding the only successful front in the disastrous Russian offensive of June, 1917, he became Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Provisional Government's armed forces.

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