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Recognized for formulating unorthodox social theories, Lev Gumilev and D.S. Mirsky were partly responsible for founding the neo-eurasianist political and cultural movement.

Why did they use were instead of are here? Aren't these systems still surviving today, and thus we should use are?

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    Because, although the movements still exist, they were founded in the past. It's a bit like saying that Michaelangelo was responsible for painting the ceiling of the Cistine chapel. The painting is still there but Michaelangelo finished painting it centuries ago. You would only say 'are responsible for founding' an organisation if the organisation is very new and not yet fully established. – BoldBen Mar 23 at 9:40
  • Note that your title says "party responsible", not "partly responsible" -- two entirely different things. – Hot Licks Mar 23 at 11:51
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Lev Gumilev and D.S. Mirsky are the two people responsible for the movement. They are dead. So in this sentence the word were is used for the people and not for the movement

  • Their death has nothing to do with it. What's important is that the action of founding the movement occurred in the past. – nasch Apr 1 at 3:18

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