16 July 2020

2020-07-13 Memory Eternal! Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences E. P. Chelyshev

The Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, was deeply saddened to learn of the death on 13 July 2020 of Evgenii Petrovich Chelyshev, a well-known and highly respected Indologist, literary and cultural studies scholar, translator, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, World War II veteran, and participant in the Moscow Victory Parade of 1945.  He was 99 years old. (See https://www.interfax.ru/russia/717160.)


Academician Evgenii Petrovich Chelyshev was born into a family of Moscow merchants on 27 October 1921.  In 1939 he graduated from secondary school and entered the Moscow Institute of Chemical Engineering (MIKhM).


While still in his first year at the Institute, E. P. Chelyshev was called up into the army and sent to flight school at the military base in the town of Seshcha in the Oryol Military District.  In the summer of 1940, after completing his training, he was assigned as a radio operator and gunner in the 140th Dive Bomber Wing of the Second Combined Air Corps Division.


During the Second World War, he fought in the Smolensk region, the Kalinin and Western Fronts, the North Caucasus, in Stalingrad, Belorussia, and the Baltics.


In October 1945, E. P. Chelyshev was reassigned from the Konigsberg region to the Military Academy of the Command and Navigational Staff in Monino (near Moscow), but he was refused admission because of his poor eyesight.  In 1949, he graduated with honours from the Military Institute for Foreign Languages of the Red Army (Eastern Division) and then began his postgraduate studies.  In 1952, he defended his PhD (Candidate) dissertation in linguistics, then served as Chair of the Department of South Asian Languages until 1956.


After his discharge from active duty with the rank of lieutenant colonel, E.P. Chelyshev was on staff for more than 30 years at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, chaired the Department of Oriental Literatures, and at the same time chaired the Department of South Asian Languages of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1956 to 1975. In 1965, he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on South Asian literature, and in 1966 he was promoted to professor. In 1981, in recognition of his many achievements in the field of South Asian studies, E.P. Chelyshev was elected a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR; and in 1987, he was elected a full member. A year later, he was elected Academician-Secretary of the Department of Literatures and Languages of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (known after 1992 as the Russian Academy of Sciences). He was also a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


Evgeny Petrovich was awarded the title of Distinguished Scientist of the Russian Federation and served as Deputy Chairman of the Russian Language Council under the President of the Russian Federation. He was awarded two Orders of the Red Star (1944 and1949); the Order of the Patriotic War, Second Class (1985); the medal “For Merit in Combat”; the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland,” Fourth Class (1997) and Third Class (2007); and the Orthodox Church’s Order of the Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, Third Class and Second Class.


On 23 December 2003, the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, awarded Academician E.P. Chelyshev the Imperial Order of St. Anna Second Class. The patent and insignia of the Order were personally presented to him by Her Imperial Highness in an investiture ceremony in Moscow on 13 January 2004.  In 2006, Academician E.P. Chelyshev was appointed a member of the Knights’ Council of the Imperial Order of St. Anna. He was later awarded the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the Imperial Order of St. Anna First Class (on his 90th birthday in 2011), and the Imperial commemorative medal “In memory of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, 1613-2013.”


Academician Chelyshev was the author of 15 books and more than 500 articles on Indology, comparative literature, cultural studies, and on Russian history and culture in a global context.  

Many of E.P. Chelyshev’s writings were devoted to issues related to modern Russian culture, the role of Russia’s cultural heritage and religious traditions in Russian society today, and the vital role of science in Russia’s educational system. His works have been translated into numerous foreign languages and published abroad. And he wrote the Preface to the book In the Basement of the Ipatiev House, in which he described the process of rehabilitation of the Holy Royal Martyrs, other martyred members of the Imperial House, and their faithful servants.


The Head of the Imperial House of Russia, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her son and heir H.I.H. The Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, extend their deepest condolences to the relatives, friends, colleagues, and students of Evgenii Petrovich Chelyshev, and pray that the Lord will grant blessed repose in His kingdom to the recently-departed servant of God Evgenii.


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An excerpt from the Preface to the book In the Basement of the Ipatiev House:


“The Ekaterinburg tragedy of July 17, 1918, left no one indifferent. Some mourned and were horrified, others celebrated, and still others condemned the cruelty of the Bolsheviks, but admitted that under the conditions of the time, regicide was a foregone conclusion.... A similar range of opinions exists even today. But throughout the entire Soviet period of our history, no one doubted that the Tsar’s family was executed for political reasons by government authorities of Soviet Russia and that the executions happened with the approval of the highest leaders of the country.


“The 1950s witnessed a wave of rehabilitations of victims of political repression, but members of the Romanov Dynasty were not among those rehabilitated. They rehabilitated many representatives of the ‘old world.’ They rehabilitated many of the revolutionaries who had fallen victim to the very system they had created.  They even rehabilitated some of those who organized the executions in Ekaterinburg.  But the Imperial Family was not, no doubt due to the political circumstances of those times. It has only been recently, after many years of studying the issue from a legal and historical perspective, that the Head of the Imperial House of Romanoff, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, appealed to the Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation with a formal request to rehabilitate her relatives. The unexpected refusal of the Court at that time to rehabilitate the Tsar’s Family generated a new surge of interest in the fate of the last Emperor and his family, a new interest in the history of Russia in the 20th century, and a new impetus to assess objectively the place of the Romanoff dynasty in modern Russia.


“The idea of rehabilitation had both opponents and supporters. To be sure, one’s attitude toward rehabilitation did not always depend on one’s political orientation, especially as more and more new and accurate information about the plight of the Romanoffs came to light. Unfortunately, many of the participants in the discussion spoke out in public without having possession of all the most important sources of information, without which the question of rehabilitation cannot be considered systematically and competently. The book In the Basement of the Ipatiev House supplies readers with that information. It offers a collection of laws, historical documents, and other related historical materials relevant to the question of the rehabilitation of the Imperial Family, as well as republished articles that have appeared in the Russian press.


“The compilers of the collection, in my opinion, made the right decision when they chose to present to the reader all the most important relevant primary sources, rather than their own interpretations of events.  Though they have their own perspective on these sources, and they do not at all try to conceal that fact from their readers, compilers of this book nevertheless present the arguments of the opposite side without distortion, and thus do not deprive anyone, including their opponents, of the opportunity to come to an independent conclusion. [...]


“Among the sources published here are a number of intensely polemical texts. One of the section headings in the book even uses the word “battle.” But a careful and thoughtful reading of the book reveals clearly that the emotional tone in the texts from proponents of the rehabilitation of the Imperial Family is essentially constructive. These proponents of rehabilitation are driven by the desire to achieve truth in the highest sense of that word, and they are not fighting “against” something, as much as they are “for” something.


“The title of the book, In the basement of the Ipatiev House, might at first glance seem somewhat paradoxical and not directly related to its contents. However, there is a deeper meaning in this title than may be immediately apparent. We can see that deeper meaning when we remember the popular expression that ‘a war is not over until the last fallen soldier is buried.’ In this same sense, the terror is also not over until justice is restored to its last victim.”


(A. N. Zakatov, G. Iu. Lukianov, V podvale Ipat’evskogo doma.  Reabilitatsiia sviatykh tsarstvennykh strastoterptsev i zashchita prav i zakonnykh interesov Rossiiskogo imperatorskogo dome v 1995-2008 gg.  Dokumenty i materialy.  Moscow, 2009).  


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