Kovalevsky Vladimir Ivanovich 
(10.11.1848–02.11.1934)


Agricultural scientist, statesman and financier, "Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the RSFSR".

Born in Novo-Serpukhov (present-day Balakley), Zmiyevsky district, Kharkiv province, in the family of a middle-class landowner, a retired major.

At first he was brought up in the Poltava military school, and in 1865 entered the 2nd Konstantinovsky military school. In 1867 he began service in the Caucasus in the 154th Derbent Infantry Regiment, but less than a year later he retired with the rank of ensign and entered the St. Petersburg Agricultural Institute.

While studying at the institute, Kovalevsky did not avoid participation in student unrest. Life brought him to the famous terrorist, populist S.G.Nechayev. In November 1869, Kovalevsky gave Nechaev, who committed the murder of student Ivanov, the opportunity to spend the night at his place. For this, he was soon arrested, imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress and put on trial. In August 1871, he was released, deprived of the opportunity to work in the public service.

In 1872, Kovalevsky again entered the Petersburg Agricultural Institute. After graduating from it in 1875, he defended his thesis on the topic “Historical Review of the Essence of Alcoholic Fermentation and Yeast Nutrition” and was awarded the degree of candidate of agriculture.

From 1874, for five years, Kovalevsky was engaged in scientific and literary work, collaborated in the "Agricultural newspaper" and the magazine "Agriculture and Forestry."

In 1879, with the assistance of General SP. Zykov Kovalevsky managed to obtain permission to hold public office, excluding only those related to teaching and work in the prosecutor's office. He joined the Statistics Department of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Industry of the Ministry of State Property and took an active part in the soil mapping of the European part of Russia. On his initiative, the publication of statistical yearbooks on crops began. In a short time he established a wide correspondent network for collecting such information.

In subsequent years, Kovalevsky held various positions in the Ministry of State Property and the Ministry of Finance, was director of the department of manufactories and trade, was chairman of the Imperial Russian Technical Society, headed the commission for the preparation of Russian departments at the World Exhibitions in 1893 in Chicago and 1900 in Paris.

Work in the Ministry of Finance closely brought Kovalevsky to S.V. Witte. Their joint activity lasted more than 13 years. In 1891, according to S.Yu. Witte, V.I.Kovalevsky was awarded the rank of State Councilor. In 1892, Witte, becoming the Minister of Finance of Russia, offered Kovalevsky to take the post of Director of the Department of Trade and Manufactures, which meant the actual leadership of the trade and industry of Russia. In this position, Kovalevsky developed a large-scale program of Russia's commercial and industrial development for a long period. In 1893, he, along with D.I. Mendeleev organized the Main Chamber of Weights and Measures.

In 1899, together with S.Yu. Witte, D.I. Mendeleev and others, Kovalevsky founded the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. In 1900, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance, Head of Commerce and Industry. In 1899 he was given the rank of secret adviser.

In 1904, because of scandalous family troubles, Kovalevsky was forced to resign. After retiring from public service, he nevertheless continued to be active in the development of Russian industry and trade: he was a member of the Council of Congresses of Ural Miners, one of the organizers of the Council of Congresses of Industry and Trade, which created the Progressive Economic Party of the Russian Empire, Congress on the fight against drunkenness, Chairman of the Board of the Partnership of the Petersburg Carriage Works, the Ural-Caspian Oil Society, the Society of Mechanical Plants "The Bromley Brothers". In 1906, Kovalevsky headed the Russian Technical Society and held this post until the beginning of 1916. During the First World War, he was a member of the bureau of the Central Military Industrial Committee and a freelance chairman of the peat committee of the General Directorate of Land Management and Agriculture.

After the October Revolution, Kovalevsky stayed in Russia and worked in the central scientific agricultural institutions: from 1919 to 1929 he served as Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the People's Commissariat, and from 1923 he was honorary Chairman of the Scientific Council of the State Institute of Experimental Agronomy in Leningrad, where he worked with N.I. Vavilov.  For many years he was the editor-in-chief of the Big Agricultural Encyclopedia.

He died in Leningrad from pulmonary edema, not having lived one week before his 86th birthday. He was buried at the Smolensk Orthodox cemetery. 
An islet near the island of Witte in the Nordensheld archipelago in the Kara Sea. Named RPE in 1901.

 

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