150-year anniversary of Sergey Yuliyevich Vitte (1849-1999)

150 anniversary of S.Yu.Vitte
S.Yu.Vitte (JPEG 90Kb) 
(17.06.1849 - 25.02.1915)

Graduated from Physics and Mathematics Department of Novorossiyskiy University in Odessa. Prepared dissertation in higher mathematics, but the work was recognized as unsuccessful. In 1869 he was taken on the General-Governor chancellery of Novorossiysk and Bessarabie region, his duty being issues of railway operation service. Then he took up at South-West Railway joint-stock company, where he grew up from Chief Executive of Odessa region railways to Chief Manager of the entire railway net of the company (1886). Invited to St.Petersburg to the state service, in E.T.Baranov's commission, occupation of which was investigation of the state of affairs in the field of railways in Russia. According to its results, he prepared the project of "General Rules of Russian Railways". Reputation of Vitte as a specialist attracted the attention of I.A.Vyshnegradskiy, State Minister of Finance. In 1890 Vitte was appointed Director of Industry Department of Finance Ministry, skipping all the stages of bureaucracy hierarchy, right to Genuine State Councellor rank. In 1891 he was made representative of Finance Ministry in the Council of Ministry of Ways of Communication. He was one of the initiators to build Siberian Railway. In February, 1892, he took up Manager of Ministry of Ways of Communication, Member of State Council by his position. In the end of 1892 he got an arrangement as Ministry of Finance Manager. He held this position for 11 years, managed the prime issues of national economy, had an influence on the development of domestic and foreign policy of Russia. Considered the acceleration of industrial progress as the main purpose. Thus he believed vital to attract foreign investments and protect russian industry from the western competitors. With his participation the protectional tariff of 1891 has been developed; in 1894, the state vine monopoly has been established (this contributed up to quarter of the entire state income); the emission authority of the National bank has been restricted, thus the convertibility of rouble strenthened. Money reform has been hold in 1897. He paid great attention to the personnel education for trade and industry. By 1900, three Technical institutes have been founded and equiped, along with 73 commerce colleges and many other education institutions. In 1902 the first State Printing agency has been created in Russia under the patronage of Finance Ministry, and it got the name of Trade-Telegraph (later Petrograd Telegraph) Agency. He considered the Far-East direction of foreign policy as especially important, and he was adherent to "peaceful" expansion methods (financial and economic). In 1898 he succeeded in leasing of Port-Artur from China (for 15 years). He tried to resist to doubtful activity of A.M.Bezobrazov group, but had a failure. Discrepancies with tzar Nicolai II in a number of primary issues of domestic and foreign policy, and Russian-Japanese relations in particular, led to Vitte's retirement from his position of Finance Minister in 1903 (followed by big one-time remuneration). He got an appointment to the position of Chairman of Committee of Ministers (honourable, but less influential). 29.06.1905 he was appointed the primary authority for peaceful negotiations with Japan in Portsmuth; he managed to make peace under comparatively favourable conditions for Russia. He was awarded with Count Title. He was the author of "Manifesto" of October,17, 1905 (together with prince A.D.Obolenski and N.I.Vuich), whereupon had an appointment to Council of Ministers Chairman. At this position he acted as organizer of suppression of Moscow armed revolt, of punitive expeditions in Siberia, Baltics, Poland. To stabilize the internal situation he gained big loans from foreign states. Following some conciliation, he got retirement on his application on 14.04.1906. He stayed Member of State Council and Finance Committee. Did not participate actively in state affairs any more.

Source: Gosudarstvyennyye dyeyatyeli Rossii XIX - nachala XX v.:
Biografichyeskii spravochnik (M.: Izd. MGU, 1995), s.42-43.

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