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Moscow pays last respects to pioneer of Russian perestroika and openness Nikolai Shmelev

January 10, 2014, 21:24 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, January 10, 20:08 /ITAR-TASS/. Last respects were paid on Friday to the pioneer of Gorbachev-era perestroika and openness, acclaimed Russian economist and writer Nikolai Shmelev, who died of heart attack at the age of 77 on January 6. The farewell ceremony was held at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

People, who came to pay last respects to Shmelev, noted that he had “dedicated his entire life to the search of common sense, which he thought was our only salvation, along with empathy to people.” He was reputed as an “artist of compromise” in the hard times of radical reforms.

Alexander Dynkin, the academician secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ department of international relations and the world economy, described Nikolai Shmelev as a “unique Russian European, who was staunch in upholding his principles.”

“I got to know Nikolai Petrovich [Shmelev], when we worked at the Institute of US and Canadian Studies, and will remember him as a man of keen intelligence and a very cultured person,” said Andrei Kokoshin, the academician secretary of the Academyc’ department of social sciences. “Wherever he was, he inspired people with the spirit of friendliness, fellowship and mutual understanding.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev offered his condolences to Nikolai Shmelev’s relatives and his colleagues at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where he had been director. In his telegram of condolences posted on the official website of the Russian government, Medvedev noted that Shmelev had ascended from a research fellow at the Institute of Economics to the director of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “The author of numerous works on international relations and their impacts on the development of our country, Nikolai Petrovich was known as ardent publicist pondering over Russia’s future,” the telegram said.

Nikolai Shmelev was born in Moscow on June 18, 1936. He graduated with honours from the department of economics of the Moscow State University. He worked at the Institute of Economics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, at the Institute of the Economy of the World Socialist System of the USSR Academy of Sciences, was a lecturer at the propaganda department of the central committee of the USSR Communist Party. In 1983-1992, he worked at the Institute of US and Canadian Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1992, he joined the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, ultimately becoming its director in 1999. He was a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 1987, Nikolai Shmelev published his famous article “Advances and Debts” in the Novy Mir literary journal, opening up the era of perestroika and openness. The article threw critical light on the economy of developed socialist society. Although offering no actual solutions, the author set the reader thinking about the situation in the country. In 1996, he wrote a sequel to this article - the book “Advances and Debts: Yesterday and Tomorrow of Russian Economic Reforms.”

At the crucial period of the Russian history, in 1989-1991, he was People’s Deputy of the USSR, a member of the country’s Supreme Soviet (legislature). Apart from economic works, Shmelev was the author of literary works, such as the novels Pashkov House and Sylvester, and the collection of short stories Nochnye Golosa (Night Voices).

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