Born into a poor peasant family, Mikhail Gorbachev went on to become one of the most influential figures of the Soviet Union. He served in various positions, most notably as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He is regarded as one of the most prominent personalities of the 20th century.
Anton Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer and playwright. Widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of short fiction, Chekhov's works have influenced the progression of the modern short story. As a playwright, Anton Chekhov is credited with influencing the rise of modernism in theatre, along with August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen.
Evgenia Medvedeva is a Russian figure skater who has won two silver Olympic medals, two World Championship gold medals, and two European Championship gold medals. At the 2017 World Championships, Medvedeva became the first 16-year-old female skater after Michelle Kwan to win back-to-back world titles. Evgenia Medvedeva is also the first skater to achieve two Grand Slams in a row.
Lev Vygotsky was a Soviet psychologist best remembered for his groundbreaking work on developmental psychology in children. He is also remembered for his work on the relationship between thought and language, which remains influential to this day. A man with various interests, Vygotsky's work covered topics like the philosophy of science and the psychology of art.
Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian writer, journalist, and human rights activist. She is best remembered for reporting the Second Chechen War. In spite of various acts of intimidation and violence, Politkovskaya never gave up reporting on the war. Her efforts and work earned her several international awards, such as the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award. Politkovskaya was murdered in 2006.
Oleg Deripaska is a Russian industrialist. He is credited with founding one of the country's largest industrial groups, Basic Element. Also known for his philanthropic efforts, Deripaska is credited with establishing Russia's largest charitable foundation, Volnoe Delo Foundation. A humanitarian, Oleg Deripaska donated money during the COVID-19 pandemic to build hospitals in Siberia.
Andrei Sakharov was a Russian dissident and nuclear physicist best remembered for designing RDS-37, Soviet Union's first two-stage hydrogen bomb. Also an activist for peace and human rights, Andrei Sakharov was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded by the European Parliament, is named in his honor.
It is believed Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev was highly inspired by his dominant mother in his younger days and thus created strong female characters in his novels later. He is remembered for popularizing Russian literature and realism in the West. One of his most notable works was Father and Sons.
Tony Hoare is a British computer scientist who is credited with developing the sorting algorithm quicksort. He is also credited with developing Hoare logic, a formal system for verifying program correctness. Over the years, Tony Hoare has received several prestigious awards for his contribution to computer science.
Revered as the Palestinian national poet, Mahmoud Darwish was born in al-Birwa, a village that was ravaged by Israelis. He was exiled in Paris and Beirut for many years and was even once put in prison for reciting a poem. His writing style merged traditional Arabic forms with modern elements.
Raisa Gorbacheva was a Russian activist who was actively involved in the preservation of Russian cultural heritage, treatment programs for children suffering from blood cancer, and fostering of new talent. She was married to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and was one of the few wives of Soviet leaders to have a high-profile career of her own.
Russian statesman Georgy Lvov created history by becoming the first prime minister of the Russian provisional government formed during the 1917 February Revolution. A qualified lawyer, he worked in civil service for a few years, before joining the Kadet Party, or the Constitutional Democratic Party.
L. L. Zamenhof was an ophthalmologist best remembered for creating the most widely spoken international auxiliary language, Esperanto. He came up with the constructed language after being consumed by the idea of a warless world. L. L. Zamenhof received several honors for creating Esperanto, including the Légion d'honneur. He also received 12 nominations for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
Born into a peasant family, Russian lyrical poet Sergei Yesenin was a significant figure of Imaginism. Known as "the last poet of wooden Russia," Yesenin soared to fame with works such as Radunitsa. He later committed suicide in a hotel, having written his last poem in his own blood.
Born in Russia, Swiss billionaire Margarita Louis-Dreyfus initially studied law and economics. She became an heir to the agricultural and food-processing commodities giant Louis-Dreyfus group after her husband Robert Louis-Dreyfus’s death. At 53, she became a mother of twins, with her partner Philipp Hildebrand. She was featured on Forbes Billionaires 2021.
Immanuel Velikovsky is remembered for his concepts such as cosmogony. He initially studied medicine and psychology, and later devoted his life to his research on ancient myths and legends, attempting to establish their historical authenticity. In spite of facing the hostility of scientists, his Worlds in Collision became a bestseller.
Katerina Tikhonova is a Russian acrobatic dancer who finished fifth at a world championship event held in Switzerland in 2013. The daughter of Vladimir Putin, Tikhonova serves as director of the National Intellectual Reserve Centre (NIRC) and National Intellectual Development Foundation (NIDF), which are initiatives of Moscow State University.
John Dramani Mahama is a Ghanaian politician who served as the president of Ghana from July 2012 to January 2017. He was previously the vice president of Ghana from January 2009 to July 2012. He is the first head of state of Ghana to have been born after Ghana's independence. He is a staunch campaigner for sustainability.
Russian business-tycoon, engineer, mathematician and government official Boris Berezovsky is counted among the famed Russian oligarchs who made their fortunes during the 1990s, when Russia was going through privatization of state property. He remained a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin since the latter’s election as president in 2000 and was granted political asylum by the UK in 2003.
One of the greatest Russian playwrights to have ever lived, Alexander Ostrovsky represented the realistic period. A law school graduate, he initially worked as a law clerk. His play Bankrot was banned because of its controversial topic. He was also associated with the Maly Theatre of Moscow.
Initially part of the Moscow Art Theatre, Russian director-actor Vsevolod Meyerhold is remembered for pioneering avant-garde theories of symbolism in theater. He also paved the path for biomechanics in Russian theater and created masterpieces such as The Magnificent Cuckold. He was executed, and his wife was murdered, during the Great Purge.
Russian author and journalist, Vasily Grossman, by training a chemical engineer, began writing fulltime at the age of twenty-five, eventually publishing several short stories and novels, including Life and Fate and Forever Flowing. Considered a threat, these works were later censured. A war correspondent during WWII, he was also one of the first journalists to write on Treblinka extermination camp.
The son of Russian film director Sergei Bodrov, Sergei Bodrov Jr. started his career with his father’s movies, such as Prisoner of the Mountains. His performance in Brother made him a star in Russia. He went missing along with his crew after an avalanche hit them in the Caucasus while directing The Messenger.
Russian politician Dmitry Rogozin has not just been the Russian ambassador to NATO but has also headed the Russian space agency Roscosmos as its director general. He also led the nationalist political party Rodina and has been Russia’s deputy prime minister for Defense and Space Industry.
Former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov had begun his career as a journalist for Pravda. He later went on multiple espionage missions as a KGB official, using the codename MAKSIM. He also denied reports that his father was a victim of the Stalinist purge and that he had changed his surname.
The first woman to serve as the governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina has also been an economic advisor to Russian president Vladamir Putin. The daughter of a factory manager mother and a driver father, she made it to the Forbes Power Women 2020 list.
Lyubov Sobol is a Russian public and political figure. An influential personality, Sobol serves as a lawyer of a nonprofit organization called the Anti-Corruption Foundation. In 2019, BBC included her in the leadership category of its list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.
Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov lost his mother at birth and was raised by his aunts. His talent in mathematics was discovered when he joined the Moscow State University to study history and math, while simultaneously studying metallurgy elsewhere. His greatest contribution to mathematics was in the field of probability theory.
Former president of Romania Ion Iliescu was in the news when in 2018, he was charged with crimes against humanity for being involved in the revolts following the toppling of the communist rule in 1989. He denied the charges, though over 800 people were killed after he assumed power.
Russian novelist and travel writer Ivan Goncharov is best remembered for his novel Oblomov. Born into an affluent merchant family, he later had a 30-year stint as an official, working for the ministries of finance and censorship. In his memoir, An Uncommon Story, he accused many authors of plagiarizing his works.
Julia Apostoli is a Soviet-born former professional tennis player. She has represented both the Soviet Union and Greece internationally. The daughter of football player Sergei Salnikov, she was introduced to sports as a child. She made her debut with the Soviet Union Fed Cup team in 1980. She won a gold medal in women's doubles at the 1984 Friendship Games.