Symyrenko, Vasyl

Symyrenko, Vasyl, b 20 March 1835 in Mliiv, Cherkasy county, Kyiv gubernia, d 14 December 1915 in Kyiv. Industrialist, inventor, and philanthropist of the Symyrenko family; son of Fedir Symyrenko and brother of Platon Symyrenko. He managed his family's sugar-refining company. In the 1860s he built a sugar refinery in Sydorivka, near Kaniv, in Kyiv gubernia, which was equipped with ultramodern machinery, some of it of Symyrenko's own design. It was the most productive plant of its kind in the Russian Empire. For some 40 years Symyrenko provided substantial financial support for Ukrainian cultural work. He covered the deficits of the journals Kievskaia starina, Literaturno-naukovyi vistnyk, and Ukraïna (1907), and the newspapers Hromads’ka dumka, Rada (Kyiv), and Ukrainische Rundschau. He also funded the work of the Vik publishing house and supported such scholars and writers as Mykhailo Drahomanov and Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. In 1912 he donated 100,000 rubles to purchase a new building for the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lviv. In Sydorivka he founded and maintained one of the finest Ukrainian national theater troupes of the time. Symyrenko left his entire estate (some 10 million rubles) to Ukrainian cultural causes, but because of the First World War and the Revolution of 1917 his will could not be executed, and the money was lost. He was largely ignored by Soviet Ukrainian scholarship, despite his importance in Ukrainian economic and cultural history.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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