Parents, Childhood, Studying at University

Herman Obuhov was born in 1949 in Chelyabinsk, a big industrial city in the Southern Ural. His life is unlike millions of others’, and the fate of his family is unique and extraordinary. This is his story.

Дом бабушки и дедушки в Челябинске, где жил после рождения в начале 1950 – х годов
Grandmother’s house (on dad’s side) in Chelyabinsk, 1953

In 1919, two years after the October Revolution in Russia, in a house in the small provincial city of Yuryuzan in the Urals, Ivan Privalov, Herman’s grandfather, and his brother Nikolay, had a talk. Nikolay said to Ivan, “I’m leaving this country, it’s a grim prospect. Let’s leave together.” “Where?” Ivan asked. “Wherever the road takes us, as long as it’s away from Russia,” Nikolay answered and added, “if you don’t leave, the Bolsheviks will shoot you for our father owning a manufactory and us being their enemies.” Ivan only shook his head, “I won’t go, and if they do shoot me, I’ll be on my land…”. “Have it your way,” Nikolay replied.

He left soon after. Years later, Ivan heard that Nikolay had settled in England and started his own business. They lost touch soon afterwards.

In 1923, Ivan married Ekaterina Melnikova and in 1925 they had a daughter – Dina Privalova, Herman’s mother. In 1937, Ivan Privalov was arrested and later shot as an “enemy of the people”. Dina Privalova lost her beloved father and could not forgive the Soviet government. Yet, life went on, and in 1943 she studied at Chelyabinsk Technical University, where she met her future husband, Viktor Obuhov, who later became an automation system scientist.

Dina Privalova and ViktorObuhovgot married in 1947, and in 1949 they had a son, Herman. ViktorObuhov successfully completed graduate school, but they did not stay in Chelyabinsk for long. In 1954, Viktor received a job placement at the Grozny Oil Institute and the whole family moved to the North Caucasus. Herman grew up fast, mastered arithmetic and grammar in kindergarten and in 1956, before he had turned 7, started Grozny school. The Obuhovs lived in the North Caucasus for only four years. In 1958, Viktor found a very good job at the Academy of Sciences of the Belorussian SSR in Minsk, and soon the whole family moved to the capital of Belarus. Only six years later, in 1965, Viktor, who had already received a Ph.D. in technical sciences, got a two bedroom apartment from the Academy and the family finally settled down.

LETI University, built in 1886
LETI University, built in 1886

In 1966, Herman graduated from School No. 1 in Minsk and studied at the Minsk Radio Engineering University (MRTI). In his senior year just before graduation, he had a conflict with one of the university professors, whom Herman accused of not knowing the Ohm’s Law. He was expelled from the university as a result, but through his father, he was transferred to Leningrad Electrotechnical University (LETI), one of the country’s most prestigious universities.

As Herman was about to graduate, his draft deferment had expired and Herman was drafted in as the rank of soldier, although he had successfully graduated from the military department in Minsk, but had not yet received the rank of lieutenant. For the first time in his life, he experienced the injustice of the Soviet system. He had to serve for two years as a soldier with a great many adventures. He was almost sent to the penal battalion for unauthorized actions and unwillingness to obey his superiors, butthe intervention of the retired general, Herman’s father’s former colleague, and the general’s connections helped him out. In 1975, two years later, he returned to Leningrad and successfully graduated from LETI. By this time, Herman’s parents had already moved to Leningrad, so there was no issue with housing. Herman returned from the army to his parents’apartment on the Petrogradskaya side, and Leningrad had become his hometown since.