Bezborodko, Oleksander [Безбородько, Олександер; Bezborod'ko], b 14 March 1747 in Hlukhiv in the Chernihiv region, d 6 April 1799 in Saint Petersburg. A leading figure in the Hetman state and later in the Russian Empire, a prominent diplomat, and a Russian prince from 1797. Bezborodko studied at the Kyivan Mohyla Academy. He was a fellow of the standard from 1765 to 1772 and a member of the General Military Court in 1767–68, after which he was in the service of the Russian Empire. Bezborodko commanded several Cossack regiments during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74 and became the colonel of Kyiv in 1774. In 1775 Bezborodko became secretary of petitions to Catherine II. In 1783 he became a member of the College of Foreign Affairs and was promoted to postmaster general. In 1784 he became a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1797 Bezborodko, who was by then planning and overseeing the Empire’s foreign relations, was made chancellor of the Russian Empire by Tsar Paul I.
He initiated the annexation of the rest of southern Ukraine and the Crimea from Turkey to Russia and was instrumental in the second and third partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Treaty of Iaşi between Russia and Turkey (1792) was devised primarily by Bezborodko. In 1796, under Paul I, Bezborodko succeeded in reinstating the General Military Court and several other institutions of the Hetman state that had been abolished under Catherine II. To assist him in the planning and realization of his far-reaching program, he assembled a group of talented and educated advisers from among his countrymen, and, not infrequently, from his own family (Petro Zavadovsky, Dmytro Troshchynsky, Mykhailo P. Myklashevsky, Hryhorii Myloradovych, and others). Bezborodko was the co-author with Vasyl H. Ruban of Kratkaia letopis' Malyia Rossii (A Short Chronicle of Little Russia, 1777) and, in the opinion of some scholars, of Istoriia Rusov. A 2-volume book about him, by N. Grigorovich, appeared in 1879–81.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]