Nikolai Bunge

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Ivan Tyurin. Portrait of N.H.Bunge, 1887

Nikolai Khristianovich Bunge (Russian: Никола́й Христиа́нович Бу́нге) (November 23 [O.S. November 11] 1823, Kiev–June 15 [O.S. June 3] 1895, Tsarskoye Selo) was the preeminent architect of Russian capitalism under Alexander III. He was a distinguished economist, statesman, and academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

Bunge was a professor of the Kiev University, of which he served as a dean between 1859 and 1880, when he was summoned to St. Petersburg to become a deputy minister and then (since 1881) Minister of Finance. Five years later, he became Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, the highest position in the civil administration of the Russian Empire.

Bunge undertook a number of reforms with the aim of modernizing the Russian economy. He consolidated the banking system of the Empire and founded the Peasants' Land Bank (1883) which helped peasants to purchase land. He introduced important tax law changes which seriously reduced the tax burden of the peasantry. The head tax was abolished and the inheritance tax was introduced.

Bunge's policies towards the Russian industries were extremely protectionist. He promoted the construction of railways and spearheaded the first Russian labour laws, some of them aimed at reducing child labour.

However in 1887 under pressure of conservative deputies, accusing him of incompetence and incapability to overcome the budgeted deficit, N.K. Bunge resigned.

Preceded by
Aleksandr Abaza
Finance Minister
Succeeded by
Ivan Vyshnegradsky
Preceded by
Mikhail Reutern
Chairman of the Committee of Ministers
1887 — 1895
Succeeded by
Ivan Durnovo