The purpose of the research is to examine the history of the formation in the public consciousness of the myth about Lev Aristidovich Kasso, who held the post of Minister of public education of the Russian Empire from September 1910 until his death in December 1914. In Soviet, Post-Soviet and Western historiography he was considered as a key figure, a symbol of conservative and repressive policy of autocracy in the field of higher education and science in general.

The research is based on a wide range of historical sources, including political journalism, media, normative acts and official documents. Important for achieving the goals of the study were the memoirs and correspondence of representatives of the scientific community, in particular, the former Minister of public education Ivan Tolstoy, such professors, politicians and publicists as David Grimm, Alexander Izgoev, Konstantin Arsenyev, etc. This allowed authors to identify the stages of the formation of the myth about Lev Kasso in the period from autumn 1910 to the end of 1911.

During the first months as a Minister, he was incognito to all political forces, including tsar Nicholas II. His first actions were criticized by the right politicians rather than the left. For a long time, Lev Kasso was considered as a "shadow", puppet in the hands of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Pyotr Stolypin, that is why they did not see him as an independent and strong politician. The situation gradually had been changing during 1911. Hard and consistent repression against the revolutionary students, professors of Moscow and St. Petersburg universities demonized figure of Lev Kasso in the eyes of the liberal community.

Particular outrage was caused by the Lev Kasso's project of training the professorial staff in foreign scientific centre, the dismissal of the opposition professors and the transfer ideologically closed to him professors from predominantly right-wing provincial universities in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. By that time Lev Kasso had been considered a symbol of the persecutions of tsarist power against traditional corporative subculture of Russian science and scientists. At the same time he became more popular among the right politicians. Significant role in growth of his political weight played the murder of Pyotr Stolypin in September 1911. Despite many rumors, Lev Kasso was not dismissed, but was perceived by some as a potential candidate for the vacant Post of Chairman of the Council of Ministers.

Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019

Scopus subject areas

  • History


  • Lev Kasso
  • the history of higher education
  • history of universities
  • case of Kasso
  • Pyotr Stolypin
  • University question

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