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Russian Personalities

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

Category Archive: History

Anna Kern – muse of great poet

Anna Kern – muse of great poet

Anna Kern – muse of great poet


Anna Kern was a Russian noblewoman, author of memoirs. In history she is most known for the role she played in the life of great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.
Anna Petrovna Kern was born on February 11 (22), 1800 in Orel. Anna’s parents belonged to wealthy bureaucratic nobility. Her father, Peter Poltoratsky, was a Poltava landowner and court counselor. The girl read a lot and was very beautiful. Her father found a husband for her, General Ermolai Fedorovich Kern. Anna was 17 years old, Ermolai Fedorovich was 52. Their wedding took place on January 8, 1817. In her diary Anna wrote: “It is impossible to love him. I can’t even respect him. To tell the truth, I almost hate him.” The girl gave birth to three children, but she was rather cold to them. Her daughter Ekaterina (born in 1818) was brought up in the Smolny Institute, daughter Anna (born in 1821) died at the age of 4, the youngest daughter Olga (1826-1833) lived for only 7 years.
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Durovs – famous circus dynasty

Durov - founder of the famous circus dynasty

Durov – founder of the famous circus dynasty


Durov is a famous surname in the history of Russia. The representatives of this dynasty are famous actors and circus performers. Nadezhda Durova, the heroine of the war of 1812, the legendary cavalry-girl, is among the ancestors of the glorious dynasty. She was Kutuzov’s adjutant during the Patriotic War. After the war she was actively engaged in charity and even turned her house into a small menagerie. Nadezhda took the abandoned and sick animals that she met on her way. Her descendants were fond of animals too.
For many years Vladimir Durov’s name was on the hoardings of Russia and many other countries, for he was a popular circus performer whose bold wit always drew applause and laughter. He used to call himself a clown, or jester, but in fact he was a deep thinker, an accomplished musician and sculptor, and the author of many interesting books for children. He had an immense knowledge of animal psychology and wrote a number of serious works on the subject which won wide acclaim from scientists abroad.
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Jacob Bruce – wizard of Sukharev Tower

Jacob Bruce - wizard of Sukharev Tower

Jacob Bruce – wizard of Sukharev Tower


Pre-Petrine Russia seemed to the Europeans a transcendent mysterious kingdom, and few people risked moving there without extreme need. Jacob Bruce had such a need: in the middle of the 17th century he took the family away from the fire of the English revolution to the unknown Muscovy. Jacob, his son and then grandsons served honestly the Russian rulers.
Jacob Bruce and others supported Peter in confrontation with the princess Sophia and then continued to serve the young ruler. Jacob took part in many military campaigns from Azov to the Prut River. While they were sailing to Azov, he made a map of the territories from Moscow to Asia Minor, later printed in Amsterdam.
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Demyan Bedny – Soviet writer

Demyan Bedny – Soviet writer

Demyan Bedny – Soviet writer


Demyan Bedny was a Russian Soviet writer, poet, publicist and public figure. He was a member of the RSDLP (Russian Social Democratic Labour Party) since 1912. In 1938 Demyan was expelled from the party and restored to party membership posthumously in 1956.
Demyan Bedny (his real name was Efim Alekseevich Pridvorov) as born on April 13, 1883 in Gubovka, Kherson Province. The boy was born in a peasant family.
In 1896-1900 he studied at the Kiev military paramedic school, in 1904-1908 at the philological faculty of the St. Petersburg University. His first poems were published in 1899. As a pseudonym (Bedny means Poor), he took the village nickname of his uncle, a public accuser and an atheist.
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Zinovy Peshkov – French general from Russia

Zinovy Peshkov - French general from Russia

Zinovy Peshkov – French general from Russia


Zinovy Peshkov was a General of the French Army, owner of fifty government awards. He was an elder brother of Ya. M. Sverdlov and godson of Maxim Gorky. Zinovy spoke seven foreign languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Japanese.
Zinovy Alekseevich Peshkov was born on October 16, 1884 in Nizhny Novgorod.
Maxim Gorky (Alexei Peshkov), who lived in those years in Nizhny Novgorod, often came to the Sverdlovs. In 1901, Zinovy along with Maxim Gorky was arrested on charges of using a mimeograph for the purposes of revolutionary propaganda. In 1902, Zinovy left for Arzamas, where Maxim Gorky lived in exile at that time, and participated in the reading of his new play At the Bottom. In 1902, Zinovy tried to enter the Imperial Philharmonic School in Moscow, but he was not enlisted as a Jew.
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Valery Chkalov – legendary Soviet pilot

Valery Chkalov – legendary Soviet pilot

Valery Chkalov – legendary Soviet pilot


Valery Chkalov was a Soviet test pilot, brigade commander (1938), Hero of the Soviet Union (1936). He was the commander of the crew, who in 1937 made the first non-stop flight across the North Pole from Moscow to Vancouver, Washington.
Valery Pavlovich Chkalov was born on January 20 (February 2), 1904 in Vasilyovo, Balakhninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod Province, Russian Empire (now Chkalovsk, Russia). His mother died in 1910, when Valery was six years old. At the age of seven the boy entered elementary school. He had excellent memory and good mathematical abilities, was a good swimmer. In 1916, after school his father sent him to study at the Cherepovets Technical School. However, because of the financial difficulties and shortage of teachers, the school was closed in 1918. Valery returned home and began working with his father.
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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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