“Lemayev is a legendary person” — Nizhnekamsk celebrates its founder’s 90th birthday
Legendary director of Nizhnekamskneftekhim Nikolay Lemayev’s daughter and granddaughter arrived in memorial events
Large-scale celebrations dedicated to founder and first Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Nikolay Lemayev’s birthday kicked off in Kazan on 13 November — he would have been 90 years on 14 November. The festivities dedicated to this jubilee lasted for two days. Rustam Minnikhanov arrived in the petrochemical capital of Tatarstan on this occasion. The president of the republic participated in the opening of a memorial plaque in the block of flats the legendary director lived in and visited a concert that was hosted by People's Artist of the RSFSR Angelina Vovk.
Meeting in Lemayev Square
Firstly, honoured guests including Senior Adviser to the Director General of Development at TAIF JSC Albert Shigabutdinov, Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Azat Bikmurzin, head of Nizhnekamsk Municipal District, Mayor of Nizhnekamsk Aydar Metshin and Nikolay Lemayev’s daughter Tatiana Lemayeva headed to the monument to Nikolay Lemayev. Here officials of the republic, citizens and petrochemists laid flowers to the bust of the first director general of Nizhnekamskneftekhim.
The bronze sculpture opened on 8 September 2011 in the central urban square on petrochemists’ own initiative — on the day of Nizhnekamsk’s 35th birthday celebration, a year after Lemayev’s death. The leadership of the company and city has annually gathered in this square since then to pay tribute to the memory of the legendary director.
“Nizhnekamsk is celebrating an important date these days — the 90th birthday of the important person, our compatriot, honourable citizen of Nizhnekamsk Nikolay Lemayev. Having arrived in Nizhnekamsk in remote 1963, he built Nizhnekamskneftekhim, our city in the short term. Over this time, the city has turned into the biggest industrial centre not only in the republic but also across the country. Nikolay Lemayev remained in Nizhnekamsk citizens’ memory as both the creator of a big chemical factory and founder of many good undertakings and traditions of the city. He put people’s interests above everything throughout his life. He was respected and loved for it,” Aydar Metshin gave a speech next to the monument to Nikolay Lemayev.
Then the honoured guests visited the block of flats on 8 School Alley Street where the legendary founder once lived. A solemn opening ceremony of the memorial plaque took place here.
“My mother wanted to come to the opening of the plaque very much, but, unfortunately, her age and health didn’t allow it. I’ve repeatedly said that the best period of their life with my dad was in Nizhnekamsk. I want to say thanks for remembering him, appreciating my father, continuing his business,” Nikolay Lemayev’s daughter Tatiana Kondratyeva emotionally thanked the citizens.
“Time proved this Nikolay Lemayev’s wisdom and far-sightedness”
The festivities went on in the People’s Art House. An orchestra was playing at the entrance to the Art House, a photo exhibition dedicated to Nikolay Lemayev’s 90th birthday opened in the foyer of the building, there was a Soviet-style buffet. A concert hosted by People's Artist of the RSFSR Angelina Vovk also took place here. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov was the first to step on the stage. The head of the republic noted Nikolay Lemayev’s important contribution to developing the petrochemical industry in the country:
“Today we are celebrating a momentous occasion — the 90th birthday of a wonderful person, a professional, patriot of his country Nikolay Lemayev. The construction and successful development of the biggest petrochemical complex in Europe and the satellite city of Nizhnekamsk is linked with his name. The oil industry rapidly developed in Tatarstan in the early 60s. Big oil reserves of the republic gave an impetus to the development of all petrochemistry of the Soviet Union. Young director Nikolay Lemayev founded this big construction project and became its driver and soul. The construction of the Nizhnekamsk petrochemical factory was stopped by a decision of the Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers in favour of the construction of petrochemical plants in Western Siberia. And only thanks to Nikolay Lemayev’s perseverance and convincing arguments, the project was renewed,” the Tatarstan president noted.
Rustam Minnikhanov also talked how he personally got to know Lemayev — the founder of Nizhnekamsk made a strong impression on him: “He was distinguished not only by erudition, big knowledge of chemical transformation but also an ability to think big. Time proved this person’s wisdom and far-sightedness. The polymer production development projects he prepared were successfully implemented by his pupils”.
People's Artist of the RSFSR Renat Ibragimov performed Nikolay Lemayev's favourite composition Song about the Anxious Youth. The audience sang along with him. After the performance ended, it was again said about the legendary director’s merits onstage.
“Nikolay Lemayev not only was good at petrochemical processes clearly understanding the prospects of the industry. He did care about the future of Nizhnekamsk clearly imagining what the city’s life was to be like many years later. Most of the social facilities in Nizhnekamsk were built by the Nizhnekamsk factory. Nikolay Lemayev carefully solved problems regarding the city’s development. And such a committed public approach to resolving social issues can and must be an example for today’s executives,” Mayor of Nizhnekamsk Aydar Metshin noted.
“Nikolay Lemayev foresaw the development of our company at least 40 years beforehand. Lemayev put his effort to develop Nizhnekamsk and Nizhnekamskneftekhim following the principle: “Don’t divide but multiply”. He founded the “gene” of social responsibility of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, the enterprise built houses, schools, kindergartens, sports venues, hospitals and other urban social infrastructure. At the same time, the leadership of the city and factory were always together when resolving social issues, which served a guarantee of success of the development of the company and city,” Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Azat Bikmurzin claimed.
The director general of Nizhnekamskneftekhim stressed that petrochemists respected their history and paid tribute to the memory of the first director general. 2019 was declared the Year of Nikolay Lemayev in Nizhnekamsk. Competitions, tournaments, cups, military-technical relays, patriotic games such as the International Ice Hockey Tournament and the Championship of the Russian Chemists’ Trade Union took place in memory of the legendary compatriot.
Moreover, Begishevo International Airport in Nizhnekamsk was officially named after First Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim Nikolay Lemayev. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a corresponding decree on 31 May 2019.
“So, lads, my advice is: ‘Take care of your eyebrows’”
Host Angelina Vovk said that Nikolay Lemayev had friendly relationships with First President of Tatarstan and State Adviser to the republic Mintimer Shaimyev who didn’t manage to arrive for memorial events in Nizhnekamsk but gave a video interview, which was shown to the spectators on the screen.
“Nikolay Lemayev is a legendary person. It is good we were wise enough to listen to him. As a result, the republic went ahead of petrochemistry with a priority development area. A considerable volume of added volume is created precisely in petrochemistry, while the refinery’s profit and workers’ salary increases, and taxes significantly augment with a high raw hydrocarbon conversion rate,” Mintimer Shaimiyev noted.
The state adviser to the republic reminded that a huge amount of oil was produced in Tatarstan in the 70s, but there wasn’t any oil processing. For instance, in 1970 the republic reached the highest annual black gold production in the country — 103 million tonnes — and maintained it until 1976. The first industrial oil conversion unit was put into operation in Tatarstan only in 1979 — ELOU-AVT 7 with a capacity of 7 million tonnes.
“For this purpose, oil products had to be brought to the republic by water because of a lack of railways. And during the navigation period, they had to manage to deliver fuel to the tank farm, which the economy needed so much, especially in early spring for agriculture. Nowadays the installed capacity of oil conversion in the republic is over 22 million tonnes,” Mintimer Shaimiyev said.
The first Tatarstan president also remembered an interesting incident that happened to them in Malaysia. “During that trip, we surprised the Malaysians with both KAMAZ lorries and planes, helicopters and great achievements in oil production and petrochemistry. But it turned out that our eyebrows drew their attention. They were sticking up all the time. In a word, the eyebrows were outstanding. My eyebrows aren’t thin either, they were sticking up well too, but mine gave way to his eyebrows. We arrived in the Chamber of Trade and Industry. The Chinese chairman of the chamber told us how they worked. Mr Lemayev and I began to ask questions. The Chinese man patiently explained, answered and suddenly said: “Sirs, why do you want to study here? You are already very smart”. It turns out that the Chinese think that people with such eyebrows don’t need advice. Then, in Malaysia, Mr Lemayev and I managed to list Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s shares on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. So, lads, my advice is: ‘Take care of your eyebrows’”, Shaimiyev joked.
Nikolay Lemayev’s fellows shared their personal memories during the concert programme. Founder, public activist, Deputy Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim in Housing Development (1965-2005) Rafail Glyants is one of those who began to build the chemical factory next to the Kama River together with Lemayev.
“I arrived here on 20 January 1961. An absolute absence of civilisation welcomed me. The construction began with the coming of a brigade of constructors by sledge train on 25 December 1960. People started construction. They laid the foundation of the canteen. Nikolay Lemayev appointed me his deputy. I was very surprised. I remember him very young. Our families knew each other, became friendly. We lived in the same block of flats for many years, we celebrated all the holidays together. We were young during those years, everyone wanted to have a rest after a hard working day. We were friends during those times,” Rafail Glyants said.
By the end of the meeting, Lemayev’s daughter and granddaughter appeared in front of the journalists, shared their memories of their father and grandfather.
“It is a great pity that my grandmother didn’t manage to come. She and my grandfather would have been pleased because people still remember him so much time later. He was very good at telling jokes. I heard them many times, but my heart always stood still, I thought nobody would laugh this time. But he told jokes and laughed out loud at them himself. I remember these eyebrows and face expression. Everyone always laughed. And everyone expected jokes of him. It means a lot,” Lemayev’s granddaughter Olga Belyakova said.
“Today it’s been a very solemn and very exciting day for our family. My dad always was the centre of our family, the heart, soul, head. And it is very pleasant that people remember him. His business lives and blossoms. I thank all citizens, workers of the chemical factory. During the concert today I felt proud of my father, everything was organised very well,” Lemayev’s daughter Tatiana Kondratyeva thanked.
A lot of warm words were said about the founder of the Nizhnekamsk petrochemical complex that evening. Thanks to Lemayev song was performed at the end of the event.
Brilliant student with outstanding leadership abilities
Mr Lemayev was born on 14 November 1929 in a common peasant family in the village of Krasny Yar, Kuybyshev Oblast. On graduation from school in 1946, he entered the new Kuybyshev Petrotechnological College. He was a brilliant student with outstanding leadership abilities. He loved to read books.
After graduation from college, in 1950, Nikolay was appointed to move to the town of Chernikovsk near Ufa, to a petrochemical factory that was under construction. The officials appreciated the young specialist. Here Mr Lemayev went through all production stages: he worked as a master, chief operator, shift and chief engineer, deputy shop director and shop director.
Lemayev studied and worked. In 1956, Nikolay graduated from the night school of the Ufa Oil Institute in Engineer-Technologist. He met his wife-to-be Esfir in the factory in Chernikovsk. The girl arrived at the construction site by appointment after graduation from the Moscow Oil Institute. The spouses' daughter Tatiana was born soon.
In the late 50s, Nikolay Lemayev was invited to Kazan to occupy the post of deputy director of the petrochemical department of the Tatar Council of People’s Economy. Working in this subdivision, he agreed and promoted a project of a factory he soon chaired in the USSR State Plan. After structural changes in the government of the autonomous republic, Lemayev was offered several sites to work on. But he chose the riskiest one — a petrochemical factory near the Lower Kama River.
A complex of tens of plants and an entire town grew in the 60-80s
33-year-old Nikolay Lemayev arrived at the construction site of the factory in March 1963. Thanks to his amazing managerial abilities, Lemayev managed to make up a united collective, a highly professional team that could work.
The latest petrochemical units were introduced in the Nizhnekamsk enterprise. A complex of tens of plants — a synthesis of a unique technological cycle — grew in the 60-80s.
The first synthetic rubber plants in the country began to operate only by the middle of the 60s. The launch of the central gas fractionation unit solved the problem of rational use of raw hydrocarbons coming from oil fields of Tatarstan but couldn’t provide the factory’s profitability. Only the launch of installed capacities of the first synthetic rubber plant made the enterprise profitable. It took testers, mounters, constructors and, of course, chemical engineers another three years to put the acting isoprene complex in operation, and the first isoprene rubber was manufactured. The isoprene complex was launched on 31 March 1970. The first block of isoprene rubber, which didn’t give way to natural rubber with its quality and sometimes even exceeded it, was made on 8 October 1970.
The modern-day Nizhnekamsk was “assembled” step by step by Nikolay Lemayev, he fought for the construction of stadiums and hospitals, schools and kindergartens, pioneer camps and health resorts for workers. There had been built eight kindergartens, four schools, a hospital with a polyclinic, a hotel by 1970. 76 million rubles were spent to build the city, 212 million were spent to build the factory.
Nikolay Lemayev’s professional feats were given government awards
Thanks to Nikolay Lemayev, Nizhnekamskneftekhim became the biggest synthetic rubber and monomer producer in the country. On 13 June 1980, Mr Lemayev was awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labour by Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council for his merits in developing the oil processing and petrochemical industry, outstanding successes he achieved during the construction, launch and use of the isoprene rubber plant.
In 1985, he was appointed the first deputy minister, from 1985 to 1990 he was the minister of oil processing and petrochemical industry of the USSR. In 1990, Lemayev left the post according to his own will and was elected as deputy of the Supreme Council of the RSFSR. He was an adviser to First President of the republic Mintimer Shaimiyev. During the crisis, he came back to the enterprise according to Shaimiyev’s petition, chaired the board of directors of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC from 1997.
The legendary director’s professional feats were given big awards: the 4th-degree order For Merits to the Fatherland, two Lenin Orders, the Order of October Revolution and Red Banner of Labour. But people’s memory is the most important thing. This person’s authority was and remained flawless. Mr Lemayev passed away on 24 December 2000. He was buried in Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.
Today Nizhnekamskneftekhim continues following Mr Lemayev’s instructions. The enterprise is the leading Russian synthetic rubber, plastic and ethylene producer. It has over 120 types of products and exports it to over 50 countries of the world. The company’s strategic development programme linked with key principles of gas and petrochemistry development plans of Russia until 2030 envisages a rise in monomer and polymer production. The creation of a new olefin complex to produce ethylene is the major project of the programme. Over the 50 years, Nizhnekamskneftekhim has formed great intellectual potential and a systematic approach to innovations.