Russian Personalities

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

Joseph Dik – Soviet writer

Joseph Dik – Soviet writer

Joseph Dik – Soviet writer


In the Soviet years Joseph Dik was called one of the most prominent representatives of Russian literature. He was friends with Kassil, Paustovsky, Tvardovsky, Trifonov, enjoyed wild success with women. And no one noticed that the writer did not have both hands and an eye.
He was born on August 20, 1922 in Moscow, in the family of Ion Dichesku (Ivan Dik), one of the founders of the Romanian Communist Party. From morning until late evening, his father was at work, but still found time to go to the theater with his son, taught him how to shoot with a small-caliber rifle, and bought books for him. And when at the age of 10 the boy tried to write poetry, the father explained to him what a rhythm was and how to choose rhymes.
Childhood ended in 1937. Joseph’s parents were arrested as “enemies of the people”, and he and his younger sister were sent to the Rybinsk orphanage.
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Russian navigator Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern

Russian navigator Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern

Russian navigator Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern


Man’s interest in distant seas and unknown shores is indomitable. At the beginning of the XIX century, Russian sailors first went on an around the world trip to find out which countries were behind the horizon. The expedition was headed by Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern.
Adam Johann von Krusenstern was born in the family of a judge. The boy dreamed of the sea and distant lands and read all the travel books he managed to find in his home library. Father supported his son’s enthusiasm and, when the time came, he sent Ivan to the Naval Cadet Corps in Kronstadt.
According to contemporaries, at the end of the 18th century the corps was a rather gloomy institution resembling a seminary. Of the subjects indicated in the schedule, only mathematics was taught at a decent level, and very few sciences. In addition, teachers were rude and corporal punishment in the corps was absolutely normal.
It is not known how such an upbringing would end for Ivan, but a serious threat loomed over Petersburg: the Russo-Swedish war began. Pupils of the Marine Corps were hastily mobilized to participate in hostilities, and Kruzenshtern was called up as midshipman. In the Gotland battle, the captain of the ship noted his courage, and for participation in the battles of Revel and Krasnaya Gorka, Kruzenshtern received the rank of lieutenant of the fleet.
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Sergei Witte – gifted statesman

Sergei Witte - gifted statesman

Sergei Witte – gifted statesman

Sergei Yulyevich Witte, the future Russian reformer, graduated from the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at the age of 21. And later he took the post of head of the Odessa Railway movement. At 40, he became director of the Department of Railways under the Ministry of Finance, three years later – Minister of Railways and Finance.
Witte introduced the “state monopoly of the trade in drinks” in the country. The state began to live not from the labor and talent of its subjects, but from alcoholism. So, the drunken revenue filled the budget for a quarter. Excise taxes on matches, tobacco, kerosene, sugar, tea, etc. were growing. Taxes grew, and the people, naturally, became poor.
Witte built the Trans-Siberian Railway Network so that, in his words, “Europe got a gate to the Asian East,” but Russia should be a gatekeeper at that gate. For this reason, he chose the road through Chinese Manchuria to the Pacific Ocean as the most interesting for western merchants.
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Kozma Prutkov – Fruits of Deliberation

Kozma Prutkov – Fruits of Deliberation

Kozma Prutkov – Fruits of Deliberation


Kozma Prutkov is a unique phenomenon not only for Russian, but also for world literature. There are fictional heroes and people erect monuments, open museums in the houses where they “lived”. But none of them had their own biography, collected works, critics of their work and followers. Kozma Prutkov’s aphorisms were published in such well-known publications of the 19th century as Sovremennik, Iskra, and Amusement. Many famous writers of that time believed that this was a real person. This character appeared thanks to the joint prank of Alexei, Vladimir and Alexander Zhemchuzhnikov and Count Alexei Tolstoy. The Zhemchuzhnikov brothers came from an old Russian family, in which there were governors and senators. Alexey, Alexander and Vladimir were poets, and their brother Leo was a famous artist and engraver. Alexey Konstantinovich Tolstoy was a famous Russian writer, playwright and poet.
Kozma Prutkov, whose quotes and aphorisms were loved by many of their contemporaries, appeared due to the failure of the play, co-written by Tolstoy and Alexei Zhemchuzhnikov. Nicholas I, who was present at the performance, was dissatisfied, the play was removed from the repertoire, and the brothers began to write parodies.
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Blind Prince Vasily

Blind Prince Vasily

Blind Prince Vasily


If you believe the chroniclers, Vasily II (or Basil II) was under the patronage of higher powers from the early days. According to legend, at the time of his birth, the Moscow priest heard the voice of heaven, which announced to him: “Go and give name to Grand Duke Vasily!” He went to Grand Duchess Sofia and was surprised to learn that she had just given birth to a son. When Vasily headed the state and his uncle Yuri tried to take power from him, a pestilence began in the city of the latter, and stopped only after he abandoned his claims to the throne. Once, during the reign of Vasily, the Lithuanian army attempted to invade Russia, but suddenly a storm began. Frightened Lithuanians immediately concluded peace with the prince. And yet, despite the intervention of higher powers, the fate of Vasily II was very tragic. After all, a third of his life he was blind.
The boy ascended the Muscovite throne at the age of ten. All his childhood and youth Vasily fought with his uncle, Yuri Dmitrievich, who tried to take the throne from his nephew. In 1434, Yuri succeeded. He defeated the army of 19-year-old Vasily and occupied the Russian throne. But Yuri ruled for only about two months and then he suddenly died.
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Russian Strongmen

Russian Strongmen

Russian Strongmen


In Russia, as in no other country, there have always been many athletes, whose achievements caused the amazement of the public. Their portraits were on the pages of sports magazines, on the posters, in shop windows. Athletes and wrestlers shocked the audience with their power tricks, they were legends. They performed in circuses and at fairs, on sports arenas not only in Russia, but also abroad, were the pride of the country. Their heroic games brought people great pleasure. Among the spectators there were those who checked their properties, weights and chains, for weight and strength, always making sure that everything was authentic, without deception. Let’s remember at least some of the famous Russian heroes.
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Alexander Belyaev – great writer

Alexander Belyaev – great writer

Alexander Belyaev – great writer


Alexander Belyaev was born in 1884 into the family of a priest. The little boy was very curious. He made parachutes from sheets and jumped off the roofs of nearby houses, enthusiastically built a glider and in addition took photographs.
There were also mystical incidents. For example, in early youth, Belyaev made his brother’s head in clay. The head was not very similar, and he threw it into the water. And then it turned out that it was at that moment that his brother had drowned. All his life, Belyaev considered himself to be the unwitting culprit of the tragedy. To tell the truth, he almost became an invalid in childhood. Sasha injured the eye seriously, which led to partial vision loss. Parents sent their son to study at the seminary, which he graduated in 1901.
But he refused to become a priest, because instead of the Holy Scripture he loved to read the novels of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Alexander dreamed of faraway countries, but entered the law department. After the death of his father, he had to support the family. Belyaev gave lessons, drew scenery for the theater, played the violin in a circus orchestra.
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