Sergei Witte Essay

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To what extent did the policies of Sergei Witte address the problems facing Russia at the end of the nineteenth century? Russia faced many problems at the end of the nineteenth century. Under Minister of Finance Ivan Vyshnegradskii there had been famine because of high taxes on consumer goods which had forced peasants to sell more and more grain. The government were slow to act and, although they eventually enforced a ban on grain exports, 350,000 died of starvation or disease. Economically and industrially Russia was also falling far behind many other Western countries at the time, like Britain and Germany. When Count Witte became Minister of Finance in 1893, there was desperate need to decrease inflation, improve infrastructure and encourage foreign investment. This essay will discuss how successful he was at introducing policies that addressed these problems. A great success for Witte was the expansion of heavy industry in Russia. He linked industrial growth with a stronger nation politically and economically, and was inspired by the more developed nations in the west. He invited foreign experts from more industrialised countries like Britain, France and Germany to Russia to advise him on modernisation. He realised that he would have to have policies that would allow individual business people to start factories and encourage metalwork. His policies were successful, because industrial growth increased on average by 8% a year between 1890 and 1899, which was the highest growth rate of any of the world’s major economies. When Witte placed emphasis on industrialisation, it meant that jobs were created in towns and cities. Serfs came from rural areas in the hope of a better way of life, which led to urban areas quickly expanding. The populations of Moscow and St. Petersburg more than doubled between 1881 and 1910. A large textiles industry grew around Moscow
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