Alexander Nikolaevich Chelintsev (1874-1962)
Alexander Chelintsev is a prominent Russian and Soviet agrarian economist and statistician of the late 19 th century –1960s. He was born on August 3, 1874 in the city of Volsk (Saratov Province) in the family of a sales clerk. He got his secondary education at the Mariinsky Agricultural School (Saratov Province), from which he graduated in 1895. After military service, in 1896, he worked as a statistician at the Saratov Provincial Zemstvo Administration and at the same time he was a lecturer-goer at the New-Alexandrian Institute of Agriculture and Forestry. Such a combination of work and study was determined by his family difficult financial situation after the death of his father. After graduating with the title of the first category agronomist, in November 1900, Chelintsev was appointed a teacher of economy, technology, horticulture and gardening at the Mariinsky Agricultural School. In 1901-1904, his first works were published – Gardening in the City of Khvalynsk, Immediate Tasks of Agricultural Economy, Day-Rate Payment of Agricultural Workers in Russia.
In 1904-1906, Chelintsev was sent to Germany and France to study the decorative gardening in the higher schools of Dahlem and Versailles. After the return, Chelintsev got a teacher’s place at the Uman Secondary School of Gardening and Agriculture (Kiev Province) and continued his scientific research in gardening and organization of agriculture. In December 1908, the New-Alexandrian Institute Council of Professors invited Chelintsev to work at the Institute: he was elected first an Assistant Professor and then an Associate Professor and for ten years lectured in gardening, horticulture and fruit-growing, agricultural economy and statistics. In 1908-1913, Chelintsev published a number of works on the fundamental changes in the agrarian sector of the Russian economy. His original scientific work Agricultural Regions of Russia as Stages in the Evolution of Agriculture, and the Cultural Level of Agriculture in Them had a great impact on further research of the rational distribution and narrow specialization of the country’s agricultural production.
Since 1914, the main focus of Chelintsev together with Chayanov, Makarov and Rybnikov was the theory of organization of the ‘small-scale peasant, cooperatively-united economy’. Chelintsev conducted a field budget study of peasant economies in 16 southern provinces of Russia and opened a research bureau for organizing peasant economies at the Agricultural Union of Cooperatives in Kharkov. After many years of work, he collected extensive data of great importance not only for scientific research but also for the organization of agriculture.
The problems of the Russian agricultural sector escalated during the World War I. In 1916, the Economic Council of the Union of Cities asked Professor Chelintsev to make a presentation “On the general direction in the development of the Russian productive forces” and “On the conditions for the production and sales of main products in wartime”.
After the February Revolution, Chelintsev worked in the League of Agrarian Reforms and in the Main Land Committee. From May to October 1917, he headed the Department of Agricultural Economy and Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture in the Provisional Government, and in October he was appointed a member of this government by the Minister of Agriculture S.L. Maslov. His most famous publications of 1917-1919 are: Issues of Animal Husbandry under Land Reorganization, Prospects for Dairy Cooperation in the Kharkov Province, The State and Development of the Russian Agriculture According to the 1916 Census and of the Railway Transportation, Is there a Land Rent in the Peasant Economy?, On the Development of Agricultural Cooperation, Results of the Study of the Peasant Economy Organization for the Justification of Public and Cooperative-Agronomic Assistance on the Examples from the Tambov Province, etc.
The civil war broke out when Chelintsev was in the Kuban and led the field research of ‘the Cossack-peasant agricultural production’. He agreed with the Embassy of Serbia on teaching at the University of Belgrade and left Russia from Novorossiysk on March 1, 1920.
The Yugoslav period of Chelintsev life in exile (1920-1923) was quite effective. He was appointed a full-time professor at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Belgrade and lectured in geography, statistics, organization and economy of agriculture. During his university business trips, he traveled almost the whole Yugoslavia, conducted research of the organization of the country’s peasant economy and studied statistical data. Chelintsev developed a course on agricultural statistics of Yugoslavia, wrote scientific papers and made presentations at the Russian Academic Society in Belgrade including the report ‘Agricultural regions of Serbia’. His work World Market for Farm Products and its Connection with the Evolution of the Farm System aroused the interest of the scientific community. Despite being far from the homeland, Chelintsev contributed to the solution of its vital food problem. In the report ‘Supply of Russia with the spring grain crops by the spring of 1922’, he concluded that it was necessary and possible to get seeds from abroad ‘without harming the well-being of the global consumer’.
The political situation in Europe and difficult relations among the Russian emigrants made Chelintsev leave Yugoslavia and move to Czechoslovakia – the largest center of the Russian scientific emigration thanks to the Committee of Practical Issues of Rural Life and the Union of Russian Agronomists and Foresters which aimed at uniting and helping Russian peasants who emigrated to this country and at publishing collections of articles Peasant Russia under the guidance of S.S. Maslov. Professor Chelintsev was accepted to the staff of the Russian Institute of Agricultural Cooperation, became a member of the Institute’s Training Collegium and Agricultural School: he gave lectures on the organization and economy of agriculture, fruit growing and agricultural geography. In 1923, the Institute funded the publication of textbooks: on the history of cooperative credit (S.V.Borodaevsky), cooperative legislation (N.P. Makarov) and agricultural geography of Russia (A.N. Chelintsev). Together with V.E. Brunstom and K.I. Khranich Chelintsev was an editor of the journal Cooperation and Agriculture. Notes of the Russian Institute of Agricultural Cooperation in Prague.
Besides teaching and methodological work, Chelintsev continued to conduct research, made business trips to the Higher Agricultural School in Berlin and in Czechoslovakia to study the reform agricultural policy of the government. The main provisions of his studies are presented in the work Land Reform in Czechoslovakia.
Together with Maslov in 1924, Chelintsev was a founder of the Russian Research Institute of Rural Culture in Prague, headed the Cabinet of Agricultural Economy and worked on the book World Market and World Agricultural Production. In 1923-1925, he published articles on economic issues in Peasant Russia, Cooperation in Agriculture, Notes of the Institute for the Study of Russia. Soviet economic organizations needed highly qualified specialists. Already in 1921, Professor Chelintsev received an invitation from the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture of the RSFSR to work in its Planning Commission ‘as a highly qualified prominent economist in agriculture’. In March 1925, with his family he returned to Moscow. Until 1930, he worked in the Land Planning Committee of the RSFSR, the Expert Council of the Central Statistical Bureau of the USSR on the bread-fodder balance and in the People’s Commissariat of the Workers’ and Peasant Inspection of the USSR, actively participated in the development of the first five-year plans for the national economy. Chelintsev combined scientific-organizational activities with teaching at the Peter’s Agricultural Academy, Moscow State University, All-Union Research Institute of Agricultural Economy, Land-Surveying Institute and Kharkov Agricultural Institute.
In 1930, together with other agrarian scientists accused of being members of the Labor Peasant Party, Chelintsev was arrested and sent to Voronezh. Two years later he was released ‘from further serving his sentence and with the right to live freely in the USSR’ and was invited to Moscow. Until 1950, he worked at the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture of the USSR and Aral-Caspian Scientific Expedition of the USSR Academy of Sciences to study the irrigation and cotton-growing in Central Asia, and also at the Research Institute of Northern Grain Farming. In these years, Chelintsev studied the dwarf fruit growing, viticulture, agricultural technology of grain crops, organization of subsidiary farms of resorts, planning of agricultural activities and crop yields, development of new land in the Non-Black-Earth regions as arable land and practical zoning of agriculture.
76-year-old Chelintsev finished his work at the All-Union Research Institute of Canning Industry on August 3, 1950. However, the ‘pensioner’ actively participated in the study of agricultural problems in the country and abroad for ten more years. In 1950-1962, he published The State and Development of Fruit Growing and Viticulture in the Republics of Central Asia and Kazakhstan and Analysis of the Agricultural Region and Machine-Tractor Stations by Collective Farms. In May 1961, he finished the manuscript of his monograph Agricultural Regions of the USSR in 1956-1959 and Their Comparison with the Agricultural Regions in 1925-1938 and sent it to the Department of Agriculture of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. 88-year-old Chelintsev finished his last work Agricultural Regions of the USSR on January 9, 1962, a few days before his tragic death.
In 1987, Chelintsev was fully rehabilitated by the Supreme Court of the USSR ‘due to the lack of the event or corpus delicti’.