Vasily Solodovnikov, a well-known Soviet and Russian scientist and diplomat, Doctor of Economics, Professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, turned 96 in March.
The main stages of his biography are well known. Born in a Volga village, he worked on a collective farm as a tractor driver, studied at the labor faculty, graduated from the Kuibyshev Industrial Institute, then studied at the Academy of Foreign Trade, after which, from 1946, he worked in New York in Amtorg, an organization that was then in charge of Soviet-American economic relations. After returning from the United States, he moved to scientific work, in 1949-1951 he studied at the graduate school of the Institute of Economics of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1952-1960, he held senior positions in academic institutes of Economics and World Economy and International Relations.
In 1961-1962 he worked as Director of the Industrial Development Division at the United Nations, and in 1963 he was appointed Deputy Permanent Representative of the USSR to the United Nations.
For 12 years - from 1964 to 1976 - V. G. Solodovnikov headed the Institute of Africa of the Academy of Sciences. Doctor of the University of Lagos (Nigeria), Honorary Doctor of Philosophy of the Karl Marx University in Leipzig, member of the International Institute for Africa in London.
Currently, as part of a team of authors, V. G. Solodovnikov is finishing work on the collection "Declassified documents of the US State Department and CIA on the policy of the USSR in Southern Africa (in the 70s-80s of the XX century)" in the context of his activities as USSR Ambassador to Zambia in 1976-1981. He is the author of more than 350 scientific papers, including 13 monographs.
Some episodes of V. G. Solodovnikov's vivid life are relatively little known. About them-in the selection published below.
1. An essay on the life and work of a scientist and diplomat is published in the book "Names and Destinies", published in 2002 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Samara Province. This story goes hand in hand with essays about other prominent Russian figures who were born in the province (V. G. Solodovnikov's birthplace is the village of Chernorechye near Samara) or who worked here for a long time. Among them: the outstanding statesman, associate of Peter I V. N. Tatishchev, poet G. R. Derzhavin, writers D. V. Davydov, S. T. Aksakov, composer D. D. Shostakovich, Marshal, Minister of Defense D. F. Ustinov and others.
2. In 2013, the Government of the Samara Region named a secondary school in the village of Chernorechye after a graduate named V. G. Solodovnikov. In one of the classrooms, there is a small museum that displays the works of a scientist and diplomat, photographs, and some personal items.
3. Vasily Grigoryevich never lost touch with his native village - he always visited his school and helped it, was keenly interested in the affairs of the Volga region, participated in the work of the Samara section of the Moscow Historical and Literary Society. He still continues to correspond with his fellow countrymen and with the editors of the regional newspaper Volzhskaya Nov.
4. In the 1920s, when church shrines were ruthlessly destroyed, Vasily Grigoryevich's sister Pavlina Grigoryevna hid from the godless authorities and preserved the miraculous icon of the Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon from the destroyed Chernorechensk church. She gave it to her brother, and on April 15, 2012 V. G. Solodovnikov and his children-Olga, Elena and Vasily-handed the icon over to the restored and revived church.
5. The "unconventional" act of V. G. Solodovnikov - his transition from a highly paid position in the system of the Ministry of Foreign Trade ("Amtorg") to a much more modest "level of well-being" scientific work caused a real sensation at the time and a lot of gossip in Soviet foreign economic and foreign policy circles. In retaliation for his self-will, the management of Amtorg gave him a sharply negative description, which, moreover, was announced at the general meeting of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. To resolve this unpleasant situation for Vasily Grigoryevich, Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan helped, who managed to see a promising scientist in the young official, and stopped the harassment of Vasily Grigoryevich that had begun.
6. As Director of the Institute of African Studies in 1966, V. G. Solodovnikov joined the editorial board of the authoritative international journal "Newest African Studies", and in 1967 was elected Vice-president and a member of the Permanent Bureau of the International Congress of African Studies.
7. Having been selected by competition during his work in the United States as a member of the Committee on Contributions of the UN General Assembly, he succeeded in reducing the USSR's annual contribution to the UN fund by more than $1 million per year.
8. In 1980, the London publishing house "Granada" published a political novel by Michael Nicholson "Red Joker", where V. G. Solodovnikov was brought out as the main character, and under his real name. The author pays tribute to the outstanding political skills of the USSR ambassador to an African country (fictional in the novel) and shows that the activities of the Soviet diplomat had a huge impact on the fate of many young states of the continent.
V. G. Solodovnikov also became the hero of the novel "Operation Zambezi "by the Rhodesian writer Peter Armstrong. The Raid in Zambia " and the political detective "The Golden Chain", which was written by the Canadian writer Robin Moore and the English banker Julian Askin. 9.In 2004, in connection with the 10th anniversary of the liberation from apartheid, V. G. Solodovnikov was awarded the highest award of South Africa-the Order of Companions of Oliver Tambo. At that time, there were only 22 knights of this order in the world, including Patrice Lumumba, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi. The scientist was also awarded the Order of South Africa- "For outstanding contribution to the decolonization of Africa and the fight against apartheid".
10. During the years of his work at the Institute of Africa and as a diplomatic post, V. G. Solodovnikov met with almost all prominent figures of the continent - with the Presidents of Algeria, Mali, Ghana, Guinea, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, as well as with Yasser Arafat, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, and the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I, who awarded Vasily Grigoryevich with the gold medal "For the development of cooperation and friendship between the peoples of Ethiopia and the USSR".
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