Demidov Prize Awards Ceremony

Demidov Prize Awards Ceremony

9 February 2021

February 9th, a formal ceremony was held at the Russian Academy of Sciences, during which the Demidov Prize was presented to the laureates of 2020. In the category "Social Sciences", the prize was conferred upon MGIMO Rector, Academician A.Torkunov.

The Rector was awarded the prize for his outstanding achievements in the study of the history of international relations and diplomacy, for the years he dedicated to training research and diplomatic personnel, for organizing educational activities related to historical matters.

The other 2020 Demidov Prize laureates were the Rector of Moscow State University, Academician V.Sadovnichy (for "Applied Mathematics"); Academician L.Leontiev (for "Metallurgy"); D.Pumpyansky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pipe Metallurgical Company (in the "New Technologies" category).

The event has for participants the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences A.Sergeev, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Scientific Demidov Foundation, Academician G.Mesyats and the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, President of the Scientific Demidov Foundation E.Kuyvashev.

The President of the Russian Academy of Sciences A.Sergeev gave a welcome speech during which he related the history of the Demidov Prize and expressed gratitude to Academician G.Mesyats for its revival.

In his speech, the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, President of the Demidov Scientific Foundation E.Kuyvashev congratulated the audience on the Day of Russian Science and noted that science at all times has been the main motor of social, economic and technical progress. He also remarked that today the achievements of Russian scientists determine the future of our country.

A.Torkunov was introduced to the audience by the Academician of the Russian Academy of Science V.Tishkov, who spoke about the Rector’s work as a researcher and diplomat, his academic merits and invaluable contribution to the development of the humanities.

A.Torkunov expressed in turn his gratitude to the Demidov Foundation for being awarded this prize, which is important precisely because “it reflects the recognition of the scientific community, of one’s colleagues, which means a great deal”. A.Torkunov noted: "I remember the Demidovs' family motto ‘Acta non verba’-‘By deed, not by word’, which is a very important motto, since almost all Demidov Prize winners followed it". The Rector noted that it is the highest honor for him to be among the winners of the Demidov Prize. “Among the laureates of the Demidov Prize in recent years, there are a lot of people close to me, with whom I have been friends for many years: Academician V.Tishkov, and Academician Y.Osipov, and, of course, my senior friend E.Primakov. It is a greatest honor to be among such laureates ” emphasized the Rector.

Speaking about the teachers, who gave him the taste for research, A.Torkunov noted: “During my student and postgraduate years, I was fortunate enough to meet with outstanding experts in oriental studies, such as Academician S.Tikhvinsky, Academician G.Bongard-Levin, Academician M.Kim, my teacher, who for many years headed the Institute of Asian and African Countries A.Meliksetov, who not only aroused my interest in oriental studies, but also more generally in the East, and in international relations in the region. They were outstanding people, leading scientists who were also engaged in practical diplomacy."

Concluding his speech, A.Torkunov remarked “Today we live in a different technological environment and under these conditions the importance of the humanities is not diminished, but increasing,” and added that in the context of the rapid development of new technologies, the essence of human civilization is still about human values. Therefore, the work of our colleagues in the social sciences is of particular importance today. The value of human life and human potential will only increase, and this means that we need to develop social sciences in parallel with natural sciences."

As the ceremony came to a close, the laureates were congratulated by the Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Chairman of the Ural Branch of the Academy of Sciences, Executive Director of the Scientific Demidov Foundation, Academician V.Charushin.

The Demidov Prize is one of the most prestigious non-governmental scientific awards in Russia. The prize was created in 1832 by Pavel Demidov, a patron of art and member of the famous family of Ural industrialists, to support those who devote themselves to the "constant work and the modest glory of academia", as was noted by the former President of the Academy of Sciences, Count S.Uvarov during the first award session known in Russia and abroad.

During the 19th century, the award was conferred upon the great chemist D.Mendeleev, the famous surgeon N.Pirogov, the famous travellers and geographers I.Kruzenshtern and F.Wrangel. There is a common belief that Alfred Nobel borrowed the idea of awarding scientific prizes from Pavel Demidov. The two awards, Nobel and Demidov, have many common features: from the nomination procedure to the decision-making during which academics have the last say.

In 1992, the prize was revived in Yekaterinburg on the initiative of Academician G.Mesyats, the former Chairman of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, with the support of the Ural authorities, industrialists and entrepreneurs and in 1993 the first award ceremony took place. The special value of this award lies in the fact that it is granted by fellow researchers from the academic community. For the laureate, the Demidov Prize always comes as a surprise as one does not submit any applications or present one’s work to be a candidate. The decision to award the prize is made by the dedicated Committee of the Demidov Scientific Foundation based on the recommendations of expert commissions.