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|IN MEMORY OF VLADIMIR KISSELJOV|
1954 - 1995
The International Caver (13) 1995
On March 11th 1995, while diving a siphon in the ZhV-52 cave in
the Pinega region (northern Russia), Vladimir Kisseljov failed to surface.|
It was my belief that people like Kisseljov could not die in a cave. He was one of the most experienced cavers in the former USSR, he was always at case, even in the most aggressive cave environment, and never fought with a cave. However, the excitement of exploration and conquest had taken him too far this time, to the point where he failed to get out from...
Vladimir started caving in 1976 when he joined the group headed by the leading-Soviet caver of that time, Vladimir Iljukhin. His endless dedication to cave exploration quickly made him one of the most prominent figures on the Soviet speleological scene. It is difficult to count the number of caves in every region of the ex-USSR where Vladimir made new discoveries.
Vladimir was a universal speleologist, with brilliant skills in every field of practical speleology. He led the exploration of Perovskaya cave in Arabika, later named after V. Iljukhin when he died in 1982, and this cave was pushed to -1240 m largely due to Kisseljov's efforts. The fact that this cave had terminated in 1984 with a siphon at -960 m, had encouraged Vladimir and his team to quickly learn cave diving practice. Very soon this allowed Vladimir to overcome three complicated siphons between -960 m and -1020 m and to explore a new vertical section beyond, making the system 1240 m deep. This astonishing mixture of advanced vertical and diving work in a very hard and cold high-mountain cave is a typical example of Vladimir's caving abilities. After that, Vladimir became one of the most advanced and active cave divers, and many of his discoveries were made behind siphons.
Vladimir never received a degree in geology or geography, but he worked at a professional level in cave science. He produced brilliant cave surveys and descriptions, published many articles on caves of different regions, provided samples and observations in many scientific projects, and often consulted professional cave scientists on many specific topics as his knowledge of a cave environment was very deep and diversified. Vladimir made a great contribution in documenting caves and maintaining the inventory of caves in the ex-USSR.
For many years Vladimir had provided an inventory and analysis of caving accidents in the former Soviet Union. These efforts probably prevented many new accidents but regrettably did not prevent his own fatal accident.
Working for many years in the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information, Vladimir had access to world periodicals at a time when speleological information from the rest of the world was not generally available in the USSR; using this position he regularly produced reviews of foreign cave explorations. These reviews became the major source of information for Soviet speleologists about what was happening on the world speleological scene.
Since the 1st European Speleological Conference held in 1980 in Bulgaria, Vladimir got involved in international contacts. His outstanding knowledge, excellent English, and deep devotion made him a key person in establishing and maintaining relations between Soviet and world speleology. Vladimir actively collaborated for many years with the UIS Commissions on teaching, rescue, bibliography, and cave diving; he participated in many international meetings, visited and explored caves in many countries around the world. Vladimir was instrumental in arranging numerous visits and expeditions of Western speleologists to the Soviet Union, even in the times when such visits were very difficult to arrange. He became a highly respected international speleologist and was a member of many foreign speleological societies and clubs.
Vladimir was always involved in the most prominent projects, whether they were organisational ones, specialist work, or cave explorations and trips. But first of all, he was an EXPLORER. Vladimir was one of those people who became highly respected and well known during his lifetime. He was a modest man and not concerned about recognition of his person in speleology, fuss or ambition did not concern him. He was merely endlessly devoted to cave exploration, did his work with great talent and persistence, and the recognition of cavers came to him naturally and inevitably. Only now, when Vladimir did not return, it became apparent - Kisseljov was the Great Caver.
Vladimir was an open-hearted, responsive, and generous man. He made friends easily and naturally, and was a reliable and steady friend. Vladimir had an immense number of friends all around the world and his deatli has affected all those who knew him. A funeral and service of remembrance was conducted in Moscow on March 15th; hundreds of Vladimir's friends joined his family on this day. Numerous condolences were received from all around the world and Vladimir's family thanks all the people who shared this great loss and expressed their support.
Speleologists from the post-Soviet countries are taking steps to immortalise Vladimir's name. Recently he was made a Honorary Member of the Ukrainian Speleological Association. It has also been decided to name the recently established grant (special fund) for cave exploration expeditions, after Vladimir. Money to this fund will come from the Ukr.S.A. and private donations from cavers and organisations. The fund is intended to support expedition projects of cave exploration and will be administered by the Ukr.S.A. (P.O.Box 224/8, Kiev-30, 252030, Ukraine; tel/fax +70445128283 e-rnail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Cave exploration was the most prominent field of Vladimir's speleological activities, and supporting cave explorations by a special fund in the name of Kisseljov will be a good memory of him.
Russian and Ukrainian speleologists are intending to put forward the name of Vladimir Kisseljov to be included in the List of Honour of UIS; we ask all officers concerned to support this idea.
During the sorrowful days surrounding the funeral of Vladimir the issue was briefly discussed on how to preserve and provide for future use, the extensive library and archives accumulated by Vladimir. His wife Tatjana and friends agreed that keeping this material in one place and providing an open access for cavers in the future would be the best continuation of Vladimir's work and a good way to uphold his memory. We therefore kindly ask and encourage all organisations and cavers that used to exchange or send publications to Kisseljov in the past, to keep sending them in the future to: Tatjana Kisseljova, Krasnobogatyrskaya Sfr. 21. kv. 79, Moscow 105564, Russia.
The idea was also discussed about preparing a book of memoirs about Kisseljov. Speleo-Club "Barrier" (Moscow) suggested that it will provide for such an edition but any other suggestions are welcomed. All people who used to know Kisseljev and worked with him closely, are invited to participate; small articles (3-5 pages) are wanted, describing some feature of Vladimir's character or episodes of joint caving and other projects. Artices should be submitted by July. Contact: Grigori Sigalov and Konstantin Dubrovsky, tel (095) 576-34-63, fax (095) 408-51-44, e-mail: Sigalov@barrier.mipt.su.
It is also planned to produce a video about Vladimir Kisseljov. We ask all cavers from any country who have some recordings of Vladimir's visits, to send copies to us.
Vladimir's life was short, but bright, purposeful and rich. His name will be included forever in many stories and lists of honour. His activities will be continued by friends and colleagues, with warm and thankful memories at Vladimir Kisseljov.
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