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 Sergei Witte


Born:   June 29, 1849
Deceased:   March 13, 1915

Russian statesman, count

      

Sergei Yulyevich Witte was born on June (17) 29, 1849 in Tiflis.

Upon graduation from the Novorossiysk University he started working in the administration of the Odessa railroads and soon became one of the closest colleagues of the director of the Russian Shipping and Trading Society N. M. Chikhachev, who was then in charge of the Odessa railroad as well. The post of the general superintendent of transportation that Sergei Witte was taking throughout the entire Turkish war made him well reputed as an efficient administrator. From 1886 to 1888 he was a managing director of the South Western railroads. When new rating bureaus were established at the Ministry of Finance in 1888 Sergei Witte was designated the director of the Railroad Department and the chairman of the rating bureau.

In February, 1892 he headed the Ministry of Railways, and on August 30 was entrusted to manage the Ministry of Finance. Those eleven years when Sergei Witte was heading the Ministry of Finance were marked with enormous budget increase, broad development of the state economy and big reforms in the field of financial legislation. The overall balance of the state budget during Witte’s post increased by 114.5 per cent.  The average annual increase of the budget for that period made 10.5 per cent. It is interesting to see the difference as compared to the previous and following decades: the previous period was marked with the annual growth by 2.7 per cent only, and the next period from 1903 to 1912 saw the growth of 5 per cent.

In August, 1903 Sergei Witte was appointed to be chairman of the Committee of Ministers. Despite the name of note, it was “an honourable discharge” since the new post was incommensurably less influential. Nevertheless, he kept up vigorous political activity, acted as an extraordinary ambassador of peace in talks with Japan, and headed the council of ministers. Sergei Witte resigned officially in April, 1906.  The results of its activity and policy were estimated in contrasting ways.  But one thing is undoubted: service to Russia was the meaning of his entire life and all his activities.  This fact could not but be acknowledged by both his adherents and opponents. 


Sergei Witte spent the last years of his life in Saint Petersburg and abroad. While remaining a member of the State Council, he took part in work of the Committee of the Finance, which he headed all his last years.  He is the author of the book Reminiscences, which is of considerable interest for fathoming the policy of the imperial government of that time.
 
Sergei Yulyevich Witte died on March 13 (February 28), 1915 in Petrograd (St. Petersburg nowadays).


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