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Russian Personalities

People well-known in art, sport, film, fashion

Alexander Grin – famous writer

Alexander Grin – famous writer

Alexander Grin – famous writer


Alexander Grin was a Russian writer, poet, author of philosophical and psychological works.
Alexander Stephanovich Grinevsky was born on August 23, 1880, Vyatka province, Russian Empire. His father Stefan Grinevsky was an exiled Polish rebel. He was an employee and did not think of anything, except for a timely payment of salaries. But his eldest son Sasha was very different. At the age of eight the boy received three chests full of books about adventures, brave travelers and unknown distant countries.
After school Sasha went to Odessa dreaming of becoming a sailor. The boy was fascinated by southern bright city. Sasha managed to get a job as a cabin boy and even sailed to Alexandria. However, he left the ship very soon. Then he wandered around the country and tried many jobs, but did not find a job for himself.
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Nikolai Karamzin – writer and historian

Nikolai Karamzin – writer and historian

Nikolai Karamzin – writer and historian


Nikolai Karamzin was a Russian writer, historian, and journalist. He was a founder of 19th-century Russian imperial conservatism and a pioneer national historian.
Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin was born on December 1, 1766 in the Simbirsk province. The boy was educated at home and at the age of fourteen went to continue his studies in Moscow. He wrote poetry and several novels, including Poor Liza. He joined the active Masonic movement. Karamzin served only briefly in the military before retiring to devote himself to intellectual pursuits.
In 1789 he travelled to western Europe where he visited several luminaries, including Immanuel Kant. He described his trip in his Letters of a Russian Traveler, published in 1790.
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Alexander Ostrovsky – regarded playwright

Alexander Ostrovsky – regarded playwright

Alexander Ostrovsky – regarded playwright


Alexander Ostrovsky was one of nineteenth-century Russia’s most highly regarded playwrights. He was the founder of Russian national drama. He wrote and coauthored fifty plays, translated foreign plays into Russian.
Alexander Nikolayevich Ostrovsky was born on March 31, 1823. He was the son of a lawyer and his mother’s family had run a bakery. Alexander was the first of four children in the family. His mother died when the boy was eight and his father married Swedish baroness. At the age of 12, the boy entered the First Moscow Gymnasium and spent five years there. In 1840 he enrolled at Moscow University to study law.
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Alexander Herzen – remarkable writer

Alexander Herzen - remarkable writer

Alexander Herzen – remarkable writer


Alexander Herzen was an outstanding revolutionary and thinker, a remarkable writer and brilliant publisher. He was one of the most prominent critics of the official ideology and policy of the Russian Empire in the XIX century.
Alexander Ivanovich Herzen was born on March 25 (April 6), 1812 in Moscow. His father was a rich landowner Ivan Alekseevich Yakovlev (1767-1846) and his mother was 16-year-old German girl Henriette Wilhelmina Luisa Haag. They were not married and their son had a surname invented by the father – Herzen from German Herz (heart). Herzen received the usual aristocratic education at home, based on reading foreign literature, especially of the late 18th century. He was fluent in German and French. Herzen was deeply influenced by his friendship with a talented peer, the future poet N. Ogarev. The event that determined the fate of Herzen was the Decembrist revolt.
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Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky – Grand Prince

Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky – Grand Prince

Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky – Grand Prince


Alexander Yaroslavich was prince of Novgorod, grand prince of Vladimir, grand prince of Kiev, and progenitor of the princes of Moscow. He was named Nevsky, after his victory over the Swedes on the Neva in 1240. He made his mark in history as one of Russia’s best-known Christian military commanders.
Alexander Yaroslavich was born on May 30, 1220. He was the grandson of Vsevolod Yurevich Big Nest and son of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise. Between the years 1228 and 1233 he and his elder brother, Fyodor, ruled Novgorod. In 1233 Fyodor died and Alexander’s younger brother Andrei helped him to expand Novgorod’s lands.
In 1236 he became prince of Novgorod and in 1239 he married Polotsk Princess Alexandra Bryachislavna.
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Vaslav Nijinsky – outstanding ballet dancer

Vaslav Nijinsky – outstanding ballet dancer

Vaslav Nijinsky – outstanding ballet dancer


It is said that on the day when the future great dancer Vaclav Nijinsky was born, whether the Emperor himself, or someone from the Grand Dukes arranged a small feast for the ballet troupe at the Mariinsky Theater. An elegant silver cup was one of the prizes for the soloists. Vaslav’s father jumped up and caught the prize thrown by monarch. “It will become my son’s talisman!”, he cried. But he was wrong. Soon his father left the family. And a woman became his talisman…
Many things in the life of the remarkable ballet dancer were strange and mysterious. For example, his famous, truly fantastic jump on the stage. It seemed that Nijinsky freely floated in the air. Nobody else could do the same. People even looked for carefully hidden springs in his shoes. However, they did not find anything!
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Boris Pasternak – outstanding writer

Boris Pasternak – outstanding writer

Boris Pasternak – outstanding writer


The Russian poet, novelist, and translator Boris Pasternak was the foremost writer of the Soviet period.
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was born on February 10, 1890, in Moscow. His parents and their friends provided an artistic, musical, and literary environment that nurtured Pasternak’s creative aspirations. His father, Leonid O. Pasternak, was a prominent painter, and his mother, Rosa F. Kaufman, was an accomplished concert pianist. Boris began to study musical composition at the age of 13 and soon abandoned music for philosophy.
In 1909 he enrolled the philosophy faculty of Moscow University. In 1912 Pasternak traveled to Marburg and extended his travels to Italy before returning to Moscow.
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Nikolai Shchelokov – interior minister

Nikolai Shchelokov - interior minister

Nikolai Shchelokov – interior minister


On November 10, 1984 there was a sensational message on the pages of Soviet newspapers: the former Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR, Nikolai Shchelokov, was deprived of the rank of army general. On the Day of the Soviet Militia (Police Day)! It was under Minister Shchelokov, who held his post for 16 years, from 1966 to 1982, the holiday became one of the main in the country. It was a painful blow for him. Then the others came: expulsion from the party and deprivation of government awards. On December 13, Nikolai Anisimovich put on the military uniform and shot himself.
In 1966, when Brezhnev instructed Shchelokov to revive the Interior Ministry, liquidated under Khrushchev, many were unhappy, especially professionals. But Brezhnev needed proven people in key positions.
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Raisa Gorbacheva – Soviet and Russian public figure

Raisa Gorbacheva - Soviet and Russian public figure

Raisa Gorbacheva – Soviet and Russian public figure

Raisa Gorbacheva was a Soviet and Russian public figure, the wife of Mikhail Gorbachev and the first lady of the Soviet Union.
Raisa Maximovna Titarenko was born on January 5, 1932 in Rubtsovsk, West Siberian region, USSR. Her father was a railroad engineer who, when she was only three, was imprisoned for four years for criticizing collectivized agriculture. A grandfather had been executed under Stalin. Her younger brother Evgeny Titarenko (born in 1935) is a writer. Her sister Lyudmila Ayukasova (born in 1938) graduated from the Bashkir Medical Institute and worked as an ophthalmologist in Ufa. During the illness of Raisa she was ready to become a bone marrow donor for her sister.
The family often moved and Raisa spent her childhood in Siberia and the Urals. In 1950 she came to Moscow and entered the Philosophy Faculty of Moscow State University. There she met the future husband, Mikhail, who studied at the law faculty.
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Russian Emperor Peter III

Russian Emperor Peter III

Russian Emperor Peter III

The Russian Emperor Peter III lived only 34 years and had two names – German and Russian. But even in such a short period the Emperor was able to earn the diametrically opposite assessments from “Stupid martinet” and “chronic drunkards”, to “a prominent figure in Russian culture”, “statesman”. Why did one and the same person receive such different characteristics how did he manage to earn them just of six months of his reign?
Karl Peter Ulrich (future Peter III) was born in 1728 in the German city of Kiel. His father was Duke Charles Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp – the ruler of the north German state of Holstein, and his mother was a daughter of Peter I, Anna Petrovna. On his father’s side little Karl was a grandnephew of Swedish King Karl XII and first was raised as heir to the Swedish throne. His mother died shortly after his birth, having caught a cold during the fireworks in honor of the birth of the son. At the age of 11 the boy lost his father.
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