Karazyn, Vasyl

Karazyn, Vasyl [Каразин, Василь], b 10 February 1773 in Kruchyk, near Bohodukhiv, Slobidska Ukraine, d 16 November 1842 in Mykolaiv. Civic leader, economist, and inventor, of Greek noble descent. Karazyn studied mining and metallurgy in Saint Petersburg and then secretly traveled to Western Europe to continue his studies. A committed liberal, he tirelessly worked to reform the Russian Empire. In a series of letters and memoranda to influential officials and the tsar, he urged the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in the empire and the abolition of serfdom. His most important achievements were in the field of education. As the director of schools in the Ministry of Education (1801–4) he began reforming the educational system along Western lines. He also convinced the nobility and merchants of Slobidska Ukraine to establish and fund Kharkiv University. His progressive ideas, however, eventually led him to fall into disfavor in official circles, and he was imprisoned in Schlüsselburg Fortress (1820–1) and confined to his estate for many years.

Karazyn's political and economic theories helped to lay the basis for Ukrainian territorial autonomy. He strongly criticized policies that encouraged the concentration of industry and manufacturing in central Russia, policies which reduced Ukraine to a simple supplier of raw materials for the imperial economy. He also stressed the need to expand foreign trade and to improve agricultural practices by introducing new grain varieties, potatoes, and other crops, and abandoning the three-field rotation system. He devoted considerable energy to developing agricultural and metallurgical machinery. His inventions include steam heating and drying machines and machines used in saltpeter extraction. He founded and headed (1811–18) the Philotechnical Society in Kharkiv, which popularized his scientific ideas and promoted the modernization of agriculture. Karazyn also made several important contributions to climatology and meteorology and established one of the first meteorological stations in the empire. In total, he wrote over 60 articles and studies; his collected works Sochineniia, pis’ma i bumagi V.N. Karazina were published in 1910 (ed Dmytro Bahalii).

Danilevskii, Grigorii P. ‘Vasilii Nazar'evich Karazin,’ Sochineniia G.P. Danilevskogo, vol 21 (Saint Petersburg 1901)
Flynn, James. ‘V.N. Karazin, the Gentry, and Kharkov University,’ SR, 28 (1969), no. 2
Lavrinenko, Iurii. Vasyl’ Karazyn—arkhitekt vidrodzhennia. Materiialy i dumky do 200-littia z dnia narodzhennia 1773–1973 (Munich 1975)

Boris Balan, Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989).]

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