January 30, 1773|
Kruchyk village of Sloboda Ukraine Governorate in Russian Empire (today Ukraine)
|Died||November 4, 1842
|Known for||Founder of Kharkiv University|
Vasily Nazarovych Karazin (Russian: Василий Назарович Каразин, Vasily Nazarovych Karazin; Ukrainian: Василь Назарович Каразін, Vasyl Nazarovych Karazin; January 30, 1773 – November 4, 1842) was a Russian and Ukrainian enlightenment figure, intellectual, inventor, founder of The Ministry of National Education in Russian Empire and scientific publisher in Ukraine. He is the founder of Kharkiv University, which now bears his name. He is also known for opposing to what he saw as colonial exploitation of Ukraine by the Russian Empire, even though he himself was ethnically Serbian.
He was born in Kruchyk village (Sloboda Ukraine Governorate (Slobidsko-Ukrainska Guberniya), now Bohodukhivskyi Raion of Kharkiv Oblast), Ukraine, in the family of Nazary Alexandrovych Karazin, a Russian Imperial Army officer (noted for his involvement in Pârvu Cantacuzino's 1769 rebellion in Wallachia). Vasily Karazin considered himself to be ethnic Serb, though his family originally known as Karadji was of Greek origin.
Vasily Karazin was educated in nobility schools in Kharkiv and Kremenchuk. At the age of eighteen, he left for Saint Petersburg, and underwent military training in the prestigious Semyonovsky Regiment. He also studied at the School of Mines, one of the top educational institutions in Russian Empire at that time. Karazin was, nevertheless, opposed to this environment, and often reacted against the manners and customs condoned by the nobility of the times. Unsatisfied with his military service, he moved back to his village and married a fourteen-year-old serf.
In 1798, Karazin attempted to leave Russia given his opposition to the policies of Russian Emperor Paul I, but was denied a passport. After he attempted to cross the border illegally, he was swiftly arrested.
When Alexander I took power, Karazin began petitioning him with his views on government development, pointing out the state's need to invest in education. In 1802 he obtained the tsar's permission to open a university in Kharkiv. On September 1 of that year, during a meeting of the Kharkiv nobility, he gave a famous speech on the benefits of a university, asking for voluntary donations. Lacking sufficient funding and academic supplies, Karazin underwent hardship in achieving his educational priorities.
On January 17, 1805 the Kharkiv University was opened; Karazin did not take part in the opening ceremony, as by that time he had lost his position with the Ministry of Education. According to Alexander Herzen, "the colossal ideas of Karazin were downscaled to a provincial German Hochschule". Forced to return to his village, Karazin did not give up on all his plans, and established a school for local children. In November 1808, Karazin wrote a letter to the emperor titled On non-intervention in European affairs for which he was arrested for the second time.
Karazin continued his academic work. He was a member of 7 academies, published more than 60 articles in different fields of science, primarily agriculture, pharmacology, chemistry, and physics. As an example of his innovative spirit, in 1810 in his village he opened Ukraine's first weather station.
Karazin repeatedly voiced critiques of what he viewed as colonial exploitation of Ukraine by the Russian Empire, and was a proponent of constitutional monarchy as a form of government organization. In 1820–21 he was imprisoned in Shlisselburg fortress. He died in Mykolaiv.
The Russian painter and writer Nikolay Karazin was his grandson.
- Kharkiv University (V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University), University in Kharkiv named in his honour
- (Ukrainian)/(Russian) "An Enthusiastic 'Ukrainian Lomonosov'", Zerkalo Nedeli, #1(376), January 5, 2002 Available online in Russian and in Ukrainian.
- (Ukrainian) Vasyl Karazin. Bibliography
- (Russian) A.M Peskov Boratynsky