The knight of science. In commemoration of the death of A.B. Polyakov

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Alexei Borisovich Polyakov passed away on December 27, 2020. He belonged to the shining galaxy of Soviet Vietnamists, graduated from the Institute of Oriental Languages at Lomonosov Moscow State University in the early 1970-ies and taken the lead in different areas of Russian Vietnamese studies.

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A.B. Polyakov was born in Moscow in 1949. In 1966 he entered the Institute of Oriental Languages of Moscow State University. In 1971, having graduated from the Institute, he began to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1978-1980 he was the third Secretary of the USSR Embassy in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, in 1986-1992 he was the first Secretary of the USSR and RF Embassy in the SRV. In 2001-2003, having left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was an expert of the joint stock company “Zarubezhneft’” in the SRV in the town of Quang Ngai, and later worked as Deputy Staff Director of the joint venture “Vietross”. From 2003 to 2010 he was Deputy Staff Director of the Oil and Gas Producer, Vietnamese-Russian joint venture “Vietsovpetro” in the town of Vung Tau. In these positions A.B. Polyakov’s honesty and his adherence to principles fully revealed themselves. Study of medieval history of Vietnam was the lifework of Alexei Borisovich. He was the favorite pupil of D.V. Deopik, the outstanding historian-Orientalist, who educated the whole cohort of brilliant professionals in this field. Being a student, Alexei Polyakov stood out for his purposefulness, capacity for work, sincere love to science spending on it nearly all his free time. Due to these features, he deserved respect among his fellow-members of the course; in his lifetime these were his distinguishing features. In 1976 A.B. Polyakov took his doctorate. The theme of his dissertation was “The Short History of Viet (“Viet Su Luoc”) as the earliest work of Vietnamese Historiography”. In 1980 he published “Viet Su Luoc” in his translation from Hanviet into Russian with detailed commentaries and a large research article (series “Pamyatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka”). This book served many generations of students-Vietnamists as the main source for course works and theses. In 1996 in Hanoi there appeared his second monography “The Revival of the State of Daiviet in 10th-14th centuries” in Vietnamese translation. Everywhere and in any condition, Alexei Polyakov was engaged in his favorite occupation, namely in historical studies. No matter where he went, he always brought with him numerous books and dictionaries; he often bought two copies of the same book for home and for dacha. He was a real fan of his occupation, the knight of science. The essential part of his salaries he spent on buying books (he made one of the best libraries in Russia), visiting historical monuments of the Vietnamese State, participating (at his own expense) in numerous scientific conferences. Love for Vietnam, wish to visit this country as often as possible and to stay there as long as possible, made Alexei Borisovich leave the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (despite wonderful prospects for further career progression) for the job in Russian-Vietnamese joint ventures. During this period, he wrote much, traveled around the country, participated in Vietnamese scientific conferences, published his works in scientific and popular editions of the SRV. Suffice to say, that out of his 47 works only 22 were published in Russian, the rest were in Vietnamese. His colleagues-historians note that besides so necessary for any researcher capacity to work, logicality, honesty, objectivity and conscientiousness, A.B. Polyakov possessed a rare ability to see the well-known facts differently, to put the problem and to dispute his viewpoint. Alexei Borisovich was easy, merry and friendly; the circle of his friends and acquaintances both among his school-fellows and colleagues-Vietnamists, as well as among Vietnamese, was very broad. He knew and loved Vietnam; he understood the Vietnamese people excellently. He was respected and considered to be a friend by interpreters and workers, by composers and writers and, of course, by historians. Everybody, who knew Alexei Borisovich Polyakov, will keep the memory of him alive in their hearts. Editorial Board

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