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Gavrila Derzhavin

The first-rate Russian poet of the close of the ХVIIIth - the beginning of the XIXth centuries,
the outstanding Russian statesman,
the first Governor of the Olonets province

In May of 1784 Catherine II has signed a decree on designation of the valid Councillor of State Gavrila Romanovitch Derzhavin the Governor of the newly formed Olonets region. Short tenure of the first Olonets governor (mid September 1784 - October 1785) has enabled G.R.Derzhavin to realize his views of authority in practice: "not ot bow down befor the throne, but to stand - and tell the truth."

In the extensive publications on G.R.Derzhavin's life and activity the period of his stay in our region is the least investigated. Meanwhile his activity in the rank of the governor of Olonets province is widely presented in the documents of the National archive of the RK. One of the first documents from G.R.Derzhavin's Olonets period of life is the official report to the Governing Senate about opening Olonets region ruled by the governor on December 17, 1784 with the description of the ceremony accompanying this solemn event.

Archival documents testify to a variety of problems G.Derzhavin faced as a manager, his sincere devotion to the law and strict demands of disinterested service of his subordinate officials.

G.R.Derzhavin became the Olonets governor 13 years after suppression of Olonets attached peasants' uprising in Kizhi (1769-1771) and as the wise governor, demanding from peasants strict performance of all duties assigned to them, he remembered, that "ruin and poverty quite often are the reason for greater impudence and crimes".

Derzhavin was also interested in the activity of Aleksandrovsky foundry in Petrozavodsk that was the largest state enterprise of the region, he was one of the first persons to set a problem of wildlife preservation and protection of the Karelian woods from destruction.

G.R.Derzhavin has accomplished a great work on realization of provincial reform of Catherine II. At his direct participation works on ascertainment of borders between Russia and Sweden, drawing up of plans of district cities and maps of the Olonets province were made. While doing this job officials he has sent have collected a lot of interesting inormation regarding northern Karelian villages of that time, some of which such as Voinitsy, Reboly, Kimasozero, Yushkozero, etc. remained till nowadays.

In the summer of 1785 G.R.Derzhavin went to review the Olonets province. He has passed about two thousand kilometers by boat and by horses. During this hard and dangerous journey he was writing a diary which original is stored in St.-Petersburg. This record contains valuable data to learn of life of our region in the XVIIIth century: the first description of Kivatch waterfalls, provincial and district cities, originality of the Karelian culture and language are noted, the first description of a 'five-string psaltery', Karelian kantle, is given, about northern Old Belief religion is told, etc.

Documents of the National archive of the RK have also stored remembrance of G.R.Derzhavina's travel on Karelia: the decree of Olonets vicegeral board noted G.R.Derzhavin's departure on July 19 1785 from Petrozavodsk, and G.R.Derzhavin's message from August 22, 1785 informs of his founding the city of Kemi which Catherine II give a rank of a district town.

The first Governor of Olonets province has also accomplished a great job on organization of public health services, national education and charity in the region.

G.R.Derzhavin has personally opened the Olonets Public Charity Department which primary goal was to manage the work of national schools, hospitals, shelters etc. He took active part in replenishing this department's means, and before departuring he had completely disinterestedly transferred 100 roubles for charitable purposes, which at that time was a considerable amount of money, and of which a record made by the secretary of the Public Charity Department remained.

Opening the first state hospital in Petrozavodsk where the deprived people has the opportunity to be treated free-of-charge, development of the work charter for this hospital and drugstore attached to it also belong to G.R.Derzhavin.

All spadework on opening national schools in Petrozavodsk in 1786 is also related to the name of Derzhavin. Apparently from documents of the National archive of the RK, these tasks were repeatedly discussed at sessions of the Public Charity Department under R.Derzhavin's presidency. Despite of the active administrative activity he provided time and to study "local land antiquities".

Time of G.R.Derzhavin's residence in Petrozavodsk and Karelia was remembered by the the poet. A well-known ode The Waterfalls which is the beginning of the Karelian theme in the Russian poetry, the poem Storm, and the libretto of the opera The Miners are closely related to our region. Therefore, a question occurs what the poet has written in Karelia. In Petrozavodsk he has written only one poem Hoping for the Own Strength, devoted to his intense relation with Archangelsk and Olonets governor-general T.I.Tutolmin. Here in 1785 he has started to work on the poem Soul Immortality which he has finished only in 1796.

On December 15, 1785 Catherine II issued a decree on on designation of Р G.R.Derzhavin the governor of Tambov region. A letter he has written to Olonets vicegeral board due to his move to Tambov is stored in the National archive of the RK.

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Created: November 11, 2004. Last updated: November 11, 2004.
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