Oldest Oriental Institute in Russia celebrates bicentennial

Orient university in Russia turns 200.

Orient university in Russia turns 200.

Igor Lileev
The oldest Oriental Institute in Russia, the Lazarev Institute, turned 200 years old earlier this month. Among its distinguished alumni is Professor Marietta Stepanyants, among the country’s foremost Indologists and philosophers.

Russia’s oldest Oriental Institute, the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages and the Moscow School of Oriental Studies celebrated its 200th birthday on December 22 with an exhibition outlining its history at the Scientific Library of the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO).

A delegation from the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Minister Edvard Nalbandyan, a graduate of MGIMO, attended the inauguration. Among other guests of honour was Archbishop Ezras, head of the Novo-Nakhichevansk and Russian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Anatoly Torkunov, Rector of MGIMO, lavished praise on the institute's contribution to oriental studies in Russia. "The Lazarev Institute is noteworthy not only because it is the first professional scholastic institution that prepares Orientalists for foreign service, but also because, throughout its 200-year existence it has never halted its work. As successor to the Lazarev Institute, MGIMO has preserved the rich traditions of the orientalist school."

The Lazarev Institute was established in 1815 in Moscow as an elitist Armenian scholastic institution teaching Turkish, Persian, Arabic and other eastern languages. In 1927 the institute was turned into a special scholastic institution preparing professional diplomats and oriental language translators, the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies.

This institute lasted until 1954. The premises currently house the Armenian Embassy. The Faculty of Indian Languages and the Faculty of Middle Eastern Languages have been transferred to MGIMO, while other parts of the faculties joined the RAS Institute of Oriental Studies.

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