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.
Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, and political prisoner. An outspoken critic of Communism and the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn helped raise awareness of the Gulag, a government agency that oversaw forced labor camps set up in accordance with Vladimir Lenin's order. His non-fiction text The Gulag Archipelago was a highly influential work and sold millions of copies.
Russian philosopher Helena Blavatsky, or Madame Blavatsky, was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society. She popularized the slogan “There is no religion higher than truth.” She was inspired by the Arya Samaj and later converted to Buddhism. She also wrote books such as The Secret Doctrine.
Born to a poet and carpenter, George Gurdjieff grew up reading a lot of science books in his hometown, Kars. He later laid down the concept of The Fourth Way, stating that humans can overcome their state of waking sleep through methods involving a combination of music, dance, and lectures.
Sabina Spielrein was a Russian physician who also worked as a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and teacher during an illustrious professional career that spanned 30 years. A pioneer of psychoanalysis, Spielrein was the first person to bring in and popularize the concept of the death instinct. Sabina Spielrein was also one of the earliest psychoanalysts to study schizophrenia in detail.
Born to a scientist father, Yulia Navalnaya grew up to be an acclaimed economist. She met her husband, lawyer and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, while vacationing in Turkey. She has since been beside him through a number of tumultuous events, including his alleged poisoning by Russian officials.
Russian painter, writer, philosopher, theosophist and archaeologist, Nicholas Roerich, counted among the greatest Russian painters, is noted for initiating the modern movement for the defense of cultural objects. One of the greatest feats that he achieved during his lifetime was the Roerich Pact that was signed into law by the US and most nations of the Pan-American Union.
Alexander Bogdanov was a Russian physician, science fiction writer, philosopher, and Bolshevik revolutionary. Bogdanov is credited with inventing Tektology, which is widely considered a forerunner of systems theory. A multi-talented personality, Alexander Bogdanov was also a renowned economist and culture theorist.
Mikhail Bakunin was a Russian socialist and anarchist. He is credited with founding an anarchist school of thought called collectivist anarchism. Regarded as one of the most influential personalities of anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin has had a major influence on thinkers like Peter Kropotkin, Herbert Marcuse, Errico Malatesta, Neil Postman, E. P. Thompson, and A. S. Neill.
One of the prime organizers of the National Bolshevik Party, Russian politologist Aleksandr Dugin is known for his association with fascism. He supports the creation of a Eurasian empire, which will oppose North Atlantic interests. He has also penned books such as The Fourth Political Theory and Foundations of Geopolitics.
Vagit Alekperov is a Russian-Azerbaijani entrepreneur best known for his service as the president of the PJSC Lukoil Oil Company from 1993 to 2022. Counted among the richest people in the world, Vagit Alekperov is also known for his philanthropic efforts. In 2007, he established a non-profit organization called Our Future, which aims at promoting social entrepreneurship in Russia.
Russian geneticist Nikolai Vavilov not just taught at the University of Saratov but also served as the director of the Bureau of Applied Botany in Petrograd. He made expeditions worldwide, but invited criticism from Soviet agronomist T.D. Lysenko, who was close to Stalin. Vavilov was eventually imprisoned and died in captivity.
Zinovia Dushkova is a Russian poet, historian, philosopher, and author. A prominent writer, Dushkova's works have been translated into seven languages. In 2015, she was honored with the 20 Years of Gagauzia Medal. In 2017, Zinovia Dushkova’s book, The Call of the Heart, was honored at the Nautilus Book Awards with a silver medal in the United States of America.
Russian-born German author Lou Andreas-Salomé apparently rejected renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s marriage proposal and then married a professor instead. A skilled psychoanalyst, she was also close to Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. She was one of the first to offer a psychoanalytic perspective to female sexuality.
Pitirim Sorokin was a Russian-American political activist and sociologist best remembered for his immense contribution to the social cycle theory. His life and work have played an influential role in the life of popular American historian and scholar, Allan Carlson. Among other prominent personalities who have been influenced by Sorokin's work is American politician and 48th Vice President Michael Pence.
Former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov was born to a math teacher father and an economist mother. He had been a skilled cellist and had a rock group in his early days. He grew up to be a renowned engineer and economist and also co-founded the opposition group The Other Russia.
Russian politician and businessman Sergey Naryshkin is the current director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. After studying engineering initially, he had gained an economics degree, too, though it was later revealed that his economics dissertation was plagiarized. He also heads the Russian History Society.
Russian civil servant, politician and businessman Viktor Zubkov, who held different positions in the Leningrad Oblast, served as the 36th Prime Minister of Russia under President Vladimir Putin. When Putin became Prime Minister, Zubkov became first Deputy Prime Minister of Russia. Zubkov presently serves as chairman of the board of directors of Gazprom, by revenue the largest company in Russia.
Alexander Herzen was a Russian thinker and writer. Regarded as the father of Russian socialism, Herzen played an influential role in the political set up of the 19th and 20th century. He also influenced personalities like Isaiah Berlin, who regarded Herzen as his hero. Herzen's book My Past and Thoughts is considered one of the best autobiographies in Russian literature.
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.
Alexander Luria was a Soviet neuropsychologist who served as the leader of the Vygotsky Circle, an informal network of psychologists, physiologists, neuroscientists, and medical specialists. Often referred to as the father of neuropsychological assessment, Luria came up with influential books that serve as psychological textbooks for students. His book The Mind of a Mnemonist inspired films like Away with Words.
Best known as the coauthor of a collection of works, entitled Mitrokhin Archives, Vasily Nikitich Mitrokhin was the First Chief Directorate of the KGB before his defection to the United Kingdom. The 25,000 pages of files he had handed over became the basis of these books, the most significant of them being The KGB in Europe and the West.
Leonid Kantorovich was a Soviet economist and mathematician. Credited with founding linear programming, Kantorovich was honored with the prestigious Stalin Prize in 1949. In 1975, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on the theory of optimum allocation of resources. He also made important contributions to functional analysis, operator theory, and approximation theory.
The son of military correspondent Timur Gaidar, Yegor Gaidar initially worked as an economics researcher. He later became the minister of finance and administered shock therapy reforms. He also served as the deputy PM. He was poisoned while having breakfast at a conference in Ireland and died 3 years later.
From serving in Soviet labor camps to working at a metallurgical factory, Igor Smirnov had done it all before he joined the campaign to free Transnistria. He eventually became the region’s first president, in spite of it not being recognized as an independent state internationally.
Russian revolutionary and Marxist theorist Georgi Plekhanov is remembered for establishing Liberation of Labour, the first Russian Marxist organization. One of his best-known works was Socialism and Political Struggle. He later went against the Bolsheviks and Lenin and criticized their policies. He supported the Entente powers during World War I.
Wladimir Köppen was a Russian-German meteorologist, geographer, botanist, and climatologist. He is best remembered for publishing the Köppen climate classification system, which is used even today. Wladimir Köppen made important contributions to many branches of science. He is also credited with coining the term aerology.