In memoriam Sergey S. Artobolevsky (1953‒2014)

Two major figures in Russian regional science – both highly regarded in international professional circles – have died in recent years.

            Academician Alexander Granberg, who died in August, 2010, in his 75th year, began his scientific career in the Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk. As a renowned researcher into regional programming and modelling, he was appointed head of Institute in succession to the ‘reform economist’ Abel Aganbegyan. Later he moved to Moscow where he was elected Chairman of the Academy’s Council for the Study of Productive Forces (SOPS).  He directed the Regional Science Committee of the Russian Academy for many years as a member of the Presidium of the Academy. During the last phase of his career, he also headed the Department of Regional Studies of the State University of Economics of Moscow and published a series of books on Russian regional development and policy and on various subjects in the methodology of regional analysis.[1]

            Sergei Artobolevsky, who died at the age of 61 on March 18, 2014, was an active member of Granberg’s intellectual workshop.

            This outstanding researcher was born into a Russian historical family of intellectuals. His grandfather, a descendant of a family of priests, was Ioann Artobolevsky, professor of the Department of Theological Studies of the Agricultural Academy of Moscow, and a prominent theologian. The Soviet regime first imprisoned and then executed him in 1938. He was declared a martyr in 2000. It was due entirely to chance that the next generation of the family, Sergei’s father and uncle, were saved from the repression of the regime.  The father, also named Sergei Artobolevsky, was an eminent Professor at the Moscow University of Energy, and he became a hugely respected international expert on Automation, and his brother, Academician Ivan Artobolevsky, founder of the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathe­matics of the Lomonosov University was later elected Chairman of “Society Knowledge” (Znanie).

            Sergei Artobolevsky, educated in a broad-minded family of scientists with great cultural traditions, graduated from his English-language high school and studied at the Faculty of Geography of the Lomonosov University in Moscow. Whilst still a university student, he began to carry out research at the Department of Economic Geography of Capitalist Countries at the Faculty of Geography.  In 1974 he was employed by the Institute of Geography of the RAS, where his research topic was the study of the regional aspects of Britain’s manufacturing industry. He prepared and defended his Candidate of Sciences dissertation on this topic in 1982.

            Thanks to his excellent knowledge of English, he was able to join the international network of regional science quite early. He was a member of the editorial board of the International Geographical Congress of 1976 in Moscow, and from the mid-1980s he gathered material for his doctoral dissertation within the framework of his foreign study visits to the UK, the Netherlands and several Central European countries. At the end of the second phase of his career, in 1992, he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “The regional policy of West European countries”. The book based on his dissertation was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in London and brought inter­national recognition for the author.[2] During the last fifteen years of his scientific career – the last phase – he participated in countless international conferences and research programmes, and numerous foreign journals elected him to their editorial boards and advisory bodies. He was, in fact, a member of the editorial board of “European Spatial Research and Policy” for some years. Foreign organisations invited him as an external expert to participate in their Russian programmes, and he was a permanent participant in international scientific forums, conferences and debate sessions held in Moscow. He worked in the TACIS programme of the European Commission and in Russian projects of the World Bank. He was chief scientific secretary of the International Academy of Regional Development and Cooperation in Moscow and a promoter of regional research on the boards of international foundations such as Carnegie Center Moscow and Information Science for Democracy. He held courses and undertook research on several occasions in the Universities of Oxford, Glasgow and Amsterdam and frequently lectured at German, Belgian, Hungarian and Polish universities. 

            He had a wide-ranging research profile: he published a Russian-language study on British regional development in 1992 and also laid the scientific groundwork of modern Russian regional policy based on the investigation of European regional development and policy.[3] He published several studies on Russian regional development and on the interpretation, instruments and institutions of spatial policy.[4] On several occasions he used the mass media to present his standpoint on spatial settlement, demographic, spatial economic and regional power relations of the Russian transition, crisis eras and future renewal. He was a well-known and popular participant in televised debates.

            He had an outstanding capacity for organising scientific life, something which was already visible in the early years of his scientific career. He was appointed head of the Department of Economic and Social Geography of Institute of Geography of RAS in 1996, and under his leadership the international relations of the country’s pre-eminent regional research workshop blossomed, the number of its international publications increased and its scientific results were recognised by the Russian political and economic decision-making elite. He became a key figure in the Academy’s regional research programme managed by Granberg. Their common dream was to improve the international competitiveness of Russian regional development and to domesticate this scientific discipline within the Russian nomenclature and higher education. Their aim was to establish a regional scientific research network comprising 15-20 units, and in this the experience of the Centre for Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was utilised to define the operational system and scientific programme of the network. Foreign dissemination of the results achieved by Russian researchers remained close to his heart, and he developed the concept of a journal under the name “Regional Research of Russia” for this particular purpose. The journal publishes studies written in English in prominent Russian-language journals. The chief editor of the journal – issued four times per year since 2011 – was Sergei Artobolevsky. In addition to this, he was appointed a member of the editorial board of a dozen Russian journals.

            Managing large-scale research projects and editing books to disseminate the research findings were important elements of his activities directed at the organisation of scientific life. The Russian “Ekonomist Publishing House” published a volume analysing the socio-economic transformation of the Khanty Mansi autonomous okrug in 2007, which was prepared by Artobolevsky’s workshop.[5] The conclusions to be drawn from studying the development of a principal area of the Russian oil and gas industries (where GDP per capita far exceeded the national average) were that diversification together with the development of the necessary infrastructure and human resources had to be launched as soon as possible. The volume summarising the results of the research on Russian regional Development and policy produced by the scientific community under his leadership was published by Artobolevsky in 2011 and achieved immediate success on the Russian scientific book market.[6]

            Sergei Artobolevsky cultivated strong ties to the Centre for Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and from the beginning of the 1990s he held presentations at almost every international conference organised by the Institute, several of his publications being published in Hungarian professional journals. He was the chief promoter of – and driving force behind – almost twenty years of cooperation between the Russian and Hungarian Academies, and we are profoundly grateful for the 2011 publication in Moscow of a volume on the regional aspects of the Hungarian and Central European transition.[7]  He appreciated the results of Hungarian regional research and contributed greatly to their popularisation in Russian scientific life.

            My friendship with Sergei flourished for nearly thirty years, and I invariably enjoyed his sense of humour, his familiarity with Russian culture and also his European mentality. I highly esteemed his sensitivity to scientific problems and his innate curiosity, which extended far and embraced the most minute detail. I appreciated both his natural modesty and his own, very characteristic manner. We had, in fact, several common plans, and I sincerely hope that at least some of these will be realised in partnership with his colleagues and students. This, at least, we owe to his memory.

Gyula Horváth, Professor of University of Pécs, Former Director-general ofCentre for Regional Studiesof the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


[1] E.g. Westlund, E., Granberg, A., Snickars, F.: Regional Development In Russia. Past Policies and Future Prospects. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar. 2000; Granberg, A.: Osnovy regionalnoi ekonomiki. Moskva, GU Vysshaia shkola ekonomiki. 2000; Granberg, A. (ed.): Mezhdunarodnye i vneshneekonomicheskie svyazi subektov Rossiiskoi Federacii. Moskva, Nauchnaia kniga. 2001; Granberg, A. (ed.): Strategiya makroregionov Rossii: metodologicheskie podhody, prioritety i puti realizacii. Moskva, Nauka. 2004; Granberg, A., Suslov, V., Suspicyn, S.: Mnogoregionalnye sistemy: ekonomiko-matematicheskoe issledovanie. Novosibirsk, Sibirskoe haochnoe izdatelstvo. 2007.

[2] Artobolevskí, S.: Regional Policy in Europe. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 1997.

[3] Artobolevsky, S: Regionalnoe razvitie v Velikobritanii. Moskva, Institut geografii RAN. 1992.

[4] Artobolevsky, A., Treivish, A. (eds.): Regionalizaciya v razvitii Rossii: Geograficheskie processy i problemy. Moskva,  Editorial USSR. 2001.

[5] Artobolevsky, S., Glezer, O. (eds.): Prostranstvo, ljudi, ekonomika Jugry. Socialno-ekonomicheskaia transfor­maciia Hanty-Mansinskogo avtonomnogo okruga. Moskva, Ekonomist. 2007.

[6] Artobolevsky, S., Glezer, O. (eds.): Regionalnoe razvitie i regionalnaia politika Rossii v perehodnyi period.  Moskva, Izdatelstvo MGTU im. Baumana. 2011.

[7] Artobolevsky, S., Horvath, Gy. (eds.): Regionalnoe razvitie i regionalnaia politika Vengrii i Centralno-vostochnoi  Evropy v perehodnyi period.  Moskva, Izdatelstvo MGTU im. Baumana. 2011.