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Character profile: Sergei Witte
Name: Sergei Yulyevich Witte
Date of Birth: 29th June 1849
Place of Birth: Tiflis of the Russian Empire
Date of Death: 13th march 1915
Religion: Russian Orthodox
Came from a Georgian family enobled by state service.
He was a highly influential Russian policy maker.
A supporter of Emperor Alexander III and was also largely influential during the
reign of Nicholas II.
Witte was a devoted adherer of the absolute monarchy.
He also possessed a wide range of vision and outstanding moral qualities.
Education and career:
He attended Novorossiysk University in Odessa and studied
Physico-Mathematical Sciences (1866).
He graduated at the top of his class (1870).
He worked for the Odessa railway (1871-1877) and was appointed chief of the
An accident on the Odessa railway (1875) killed many people, and Witte was
arrested and sentenced to four months in prison, however he only served two
He became an expert on railway administration and wrote a book on rail tariffs in
which he spoke up about social issues and the role of the monarchy. (1883).
Joined the Ministry of Finance (1899) to develop a new railway department.
Promoted (1892) to Minister of Communications and then to Minister of Finance
Author of the October Manifesto (1905) and became Russia's first `constitutional'
prime minister but resigned after six months.
Witte was completely committed to economic modernisation. To him it was the
only method of ensuring Russia's status as a `great power'.
He believed that Vyshnegradsky's policies, although controversial, were correct
and that economic development was the only way standards of living could be
Furthermore he felt that economic prosperity would curb unrest and revolutionary
Sergei Witte believed in: civil liberties, freedom of assembly, association, press,
religion and speech, universal male suffrage and the idea that no law could be
introduced without consent of the Duma.