A gifted linguist, while still at the Alexandrovskii Lyceum V. V. learned Hebrew, Persian, and Arabic, and became one of the empire’s premier Orientalists. Posted to the Asiatic Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was sent to Orenburg, where he picked up Turkic dialects. Who could better study the Golden Horde? With this set of languages, he analyzed manuscripts and coins relevant to the Crimean, Kasimov, and Kokand Khanates and was appointed to the Academy of Sciences. In 1859 he was elected secretary of the Eastern Branch of the Russian Archaeological Society , then from 1861 to 1872 he served the society as secretary. Disaster struck when Uvarov appointed him to head the organizing committee for the 2nd Congress, in Petersburg to celebrate the society’s 25th anniversary in 1871. He suffered a nervous breakdown from the work load, and never published again. In 1888 Dmitrii Tolstoi got him back on the government payroll, as chairman of the Commission to study ancient documents in the Little Russian provinces.