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Sergei Yulievich Witte 1849-1915

Sergei Yulievich Witte is one of the brightest names who left a profound mark on the history, economy, political and social life of Russia in the late 19th - early 20th century. A great reformer and active statesman, he was a true patriot of his country, striving to lead it to prosperity and well-being. The bold and profound transformations he implemented throughout his career still command attention today.

Minister of Transportation, Minister of Finance, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Chairman of the Council of Ministers: S. Y. Witte was closely involved in governing the Russian Empire for many years and managed to influence various aspects of society, from customs regulations and monetary issues to the wine monopoly and the press agency.  

With a university education and a broad outlook, S.Y. Witte understood the importance of science for the country's economic breakthrough and well-educated employees for their effective work. He issued a circular on attracting people with higher education to the service and devoted much attention to creating educational system which prepared personnel for industry. He initiated the opening of 73 commercial schools and 3 polytechnic institutes.

S.Y. Witte Moscow University, sharing the vision of its intellectual patron about the importance of science and education for the development of economic potential of Russia, consistently maintains high standard of training new economists, lawyers and future statesmen. Our university trains active, competent, independent, and well-rounded professionals contributing to Russia's potential, and honorably continues the legacy of the great reformer whose name it bears.

Historical background: 

Sergey Yulievich Witte (1849-1915) - count (1905), Russian statesman, honorary member of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1893). Minister of Railways in 1892, Minister of Finance from 1892, Chairman of the Cabinet from 1903, Council of Ministers from 1905-06. He initiated the introduction of wine monopoly (1894), monetary reform (1897), construction of Siberian railway. 

He signed the Portsmouth Peace Treaty (1905). He is the author of Manifesto of October 17, 1905. He developed the main provisions of Stolypin's agrarian reform. He strove to attract entrepreneurs to cooperation with the Government. 

In 1870, he graduated from the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of Novorossiysk University (Odessa), received PhD degree. 

In 1879, Sergei Witte took over the post of chief of the department of operation on the board of South-Western Railways, took part in the work of the Railway Commission, chaired by Count Baranov; he had drafted the current "General Statute of Russian Railways. From 1886 to 1888 he was a manager of South-Western Railways. The idea of issuing loans for bread cargo was first put into practice by South-Western Railways on the Witte initiative. When new tariff institutions were set up under the Ministry of Finance in 1888, Witte was appointed director of the department of railway affairs and chairman of the tariff committee; in February 1892 he was called to manage the Ministry of Railways.  On August 30 the same year he was put in charge of the Ministry of Finance.

Eleven years, during which S. Y. Witte was at the head of the Ministry of Finance, were marked by a doubling of the budget, extensive development of the state economy and major reforms in the field of financial legislation. The undoubted merit is the monetary reform he carried out in 1897. As a result, Russia received a stable currency backed by gold until 1914. This helped to boost investment activity and increase the inflow of foreign capital. 

During the years of Witte's ministry, Russia ranked first in oil production. From 1895 to 1899 a record number of railways were built. Three thousand kilometers of new tracks were put in place per year. Witte initiated the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. It was laid in ten years and used to this day. 

With active participation of S.Y. Witte, the labor legislation, in particular the law on limitation of working hours in factories (1897) was developed. 

In 1898, he introduced the reform of trade and industrial taxation. 

In 1903, he took over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. As Chairman of the Council of Ministers, he took over the Government after the reforms. 

From 1903, he was a member of the State Council, appointed to the Presidency in 1906-1915. 

From 1903 he was a member of the Committee of Finance, from 1911 to 1915 he was its chairman. 

Sergei Witte died on February 28, 1915, in Petrograd. He was buried in Lazarevsky cemetery of Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra.