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Russian Personalities

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

Category Archive: History

Alexander Griboyedov and Nino Chavchavadze

Alexander Griboyedov and Nino Chavchavadze

Alexander Griboyedov and Nino Chavchavadze


Nino Chavchavadze was called “the black rose of Tiflis”. This woman was mourning for 28 years after the death of her husband – Russian poet, diplomat and composer Alexander Griboyedov, the author of the immortal Woe from Wit.
The diplomat, writer and composer Alexander Griboyedov was 17 years older than Nino Chavchavadze. And he knew the girl from her childhood. Little Nino called the Russian diplomat Uncle Sandro. He often visited her father’s house. Alexander Chavchavadze was a Georgian poet and governor of several regions in Georgia. The friendship of two Alexanders was not accidental. Chavchavadze was one of the most educated people of his country and his time. Griboyedov showed himself as a unique personality.
In his youth, the future author of the play Woe from Wit studied at three faculties of the Moscow University. In addition, Griboyedov was an excellent musician: several works written by him, including two great waltzes, reached us.
Extraordinary abilities helped Alexander to become successful in his diplomatic career. In 1819, at the age of 24, Griboyedov liberated the Russian soldiers who were in Persian captivity. Since then he became a diplomat in Persia and quickly learned Persian.
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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. And her paternal grandfather Mark Fyodorovich Poltoratsky was a Russian singer and state councilor.
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, and 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 popular actors and circus performers. You know, Nadezhda Durova, the heroine of the war of 1812, the legendary cavalry-girl, is among the ancestors of the glorious dynasty. By the way, she was Kutuzov’s adjutant during the Patriotic War. After the war she 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. He was a popular circus performer whose bold wit always drew applause and laughter. Actually, 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. What is more, Vladimir 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) was born on April 13, 1883 in Gubovka, Kherson Province. The boy was born into 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. By the way, he received 50 government awards. He was an elder brother of Ya. M. Sverdlov and godson of Maxim Gorky. You know, 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 took part in the reading of his new play At the Bottom. Besides, 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). First of all, he was the commander of the crew, who managed to make the first flight over the North Pole on the plane without making a landing. This happened in 1937 and Valery flew from Moscow (USSR) to Vancouver (USA).
The boy was born on January 20, 1904 in one of the villages of Nizhny Novgorod province. Today the village where the pilot was born is city Chkalovsk. His father worked as a boilermaker in state shops. And his mother died when the boy was six years old. The boy had excellent memory and good mathematical abilities, was a good swimmer. The father sent him to study at technical school in 1916. 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.
In 1919, Valery Chkalov saw the plane for the first time and aviation became his dream. He left for Nizhny Novgorod, where he met a fellow villager Vladimir Frolishchev, who worked in an aviation park. On his advice Valery joined the Red Army and began to work as a pupil of an aircraft fitter.
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