Famous Russian Intellectuals & Academics

Right IconThis ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Russia is one of the most popular countries of the world, thanks to its multicultural ethnicity, rich heritage, its awe-inspiring architectural wonders and legendary leaders. But is Russia all about this and nothing else. Well, the country is home of some of the world’s greatest intellectuals and academicians who have greatly influenced the life of many across the globe. It has been a powerhouse of people who used their intelligence and thinking to play an influential role in the development of the world. Who can forget the contribution of Leonid Kantorovich in the field of mathematics? His theories and employment of techniques towards optimal resource allocation changed the way the world looked at mathematics. He is also considered as the founder of linear programming. Or even Lev Vygotsky who developed the sociocultural theory emphasizing upon the fact that children needed social interaction with people of different age groups in order to advance their psychological development? Mikhail Lomonosov was a legendary Russian scientist who influenced the formation of modern literary language. These and many other Russian intellectuals and academicians have made important contribution to mankind, most notably in the field of literature, architecture, science, technology, philosophy, engineering, politics, medicine, mathematics, visual art and music. Read this section and absorb some quick facts about the life and works of famous Russian intellectuals and academics.
Vote for Your Favourite Russian Intellectuals & Academics
 1 
Ivan Pavlov
(Physiologist)
Ivan Pavlov
4
Birthdate: September 26, 1849
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ryazan, Russia
Died: February 27, 1936
Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov is best remembered for his research in classical conditioning. He became the first Russian Nobel laureate after winning the 1904 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his study of the physiology of digestion. His experiment on conditioned reflex using dogs is still studied in colleges.
 2 
Lev Vygotsky
(Soviet Psychologist Known for His Work on Psychological Development in Children)
Lev Vygotsky
4
Birthdate: November 17, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Orsha, Belarus
Died: June 11, 1934

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.

 3 
Peter Kropotkin
(Anarchist, Socialist & Historian)
Peter Kropotkin
6
Birthdate: December 9, 1842
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1921

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. 

Recommended Lists:
 4 
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
(Novelist & Writer Best Known for His Work 'The Gulag Archipelago')
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
10
Birthdate: December 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kislovodsk, Russia
Died: August 3, 2008

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.

Recommended Lists:
 5 
Helena Blavatsky
(Russian Writer and Co-Founder of the 'Theosophical Society')
Helena Blavatsky
4
Birthdate: August 12, 1831
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dnipro, Ukraine
Died: May 8, 1891

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.

 6 
George Gurdjieff
(Russian Philosopher and Spiritual Teacher Known for His Work ‘All and Everything’)
George Gurdjieff
6
Birthdate: 1866 AD
Birthplace: Gyumri, Armenia
Died: October 29, 1949

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.

Recommended Lists:
 7 
Sabina Spielrein
(Psychiatrist)
Sabina Spielrein
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rostov-on-Don, Russian Empire
Died: August 11, 1942

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. 

 8 
Mikhail Bakhtin
(Russian Literary Theorist and Philosopher Known for His Work ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’)
Mikhail Bakhtin
5
Birthdate: November 17, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oryol, Russia
Died: March 7, 1975
Mikhail Bakhtin was a Russian philosopher, scholar, and literary critic who worked on ethics, literary theory, and the philosophy of language. Bakhtin's writings inspired scholars who were working on various traditions, such as structuralism, semiotics, religious criticism, and Marxism. Mikhail Bakhtin is also credited with influencing various Western schools of theory.
Recommended Lists:
 9 
Yulia Navalnaya
(Economist)
Yulia Navalnaya
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1976
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

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.

 10 
Nicholas Roerich
(Russian Painter, Archaeologist and Philosopher)
Nicholas Roerich
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1874
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 13, 1947

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.

 11 
Alexander Bogdanov
3
Birthdate: August 22, 1873
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sokolka, Poland
Died: April 7, 1928

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.

 12 
Mikhail Bakunin
(Philosopher)
Mikhail Bakunin
6
Birthdate: May 30, 1814
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Russia
Died: July 1, 1876

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.    

 13 
Aleksandr Dugin
14
Birthdate: January 7, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

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.

 14 
Vagit Alekperov
(Russian-Azerbaijani Entrepreneur & Former President of the Oil Company 'Lukoil' (1993 - 2022))
Vagit Alekperov
3
Birthdate: September 1, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baku, Azerbaijan

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.

 15 
Nikolai Vavilov
(Russian Geneticist and Agronomist Who Was Imprisoned for His Unconventional Scientific Beliefs)
Nikolai Vavilov
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 26, 1943

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.

 16 
Roman Jakobson
(Linguist)
Roman Jakobson
3
Birthdate: October 11, 1896
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 18, 1982
 17 
Sergey Shoygu
(Politician, Military personnel, Economist)
Sergey Shoygu
4
Birthdate: May 21, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chadan
 18 
Nikolai Bukharin
(General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (1926-1929))
Nikolai Bukharin
4
Birthdate: October 9, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 15, 1938
Marxist economist Nikolai Bukharin was drawn toward the Bolshevik ideology while studying economics. Though a staunch communist and a chief ally of Joseph Stalin, Bukharin was later falsely accused of spying and engaging in counter-revolutionary activities. Following his execution, he was posthumously made a party member in 1988.
 19 
Vladimir Propp
(Folklorist)
Vladimir Propp
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 22, 1970
 20 
Zinovia Dushkova
4
Birthdate: July 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kongaz, Moldova

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.

 21 
Lou Andreas-Salomé
(Russian Novelist, Essayist and Psychoanalyst)
Lou Andreas-Salomé
5
Birthdate: February 12, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 5, 1937

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.

 22 
Pitirim Sorokin
(Sociologist and Political Activist)
Pitirim Sorokin
3
Birthdate: January 21, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: nyazhpogostsky District, Russia
Died: February 10, 1968

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.

 23 
Élie Metchnikoff
(Former zoologist best known for his pioneering research in immunology)
Élie Metchnikoff
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ukraine
Died: July 15, 1916
 24 
Mikhail Kasyanov
(Politician, Economist)
Mikhail Kasyanov
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow

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.

 25 
Sergey Naryshkin
(Politician, Economist)
Sergey Naryshkin
3
Birthdate: October 27, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg

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.

 26 
Vladimir Solovyov
(Philosopher)
Vladimir Solovyov
3
Birthdate: January 28, 1853
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: August 13, 1900
 27 
P. D. Ouspensky
(Philosopher, Writer)
P. D. Ouspensky
4
Birthdate: March 5, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kharkiv, Ukraine
Died: October 2, 1947
 28 
Nikolai Berdyaev
(Former philosopher who emphasized the existential spiritual significance of human freedom and the human person)
Nikolai Berdyaev
3
Birthdate: March 18, 1874
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Died: March 24, 1948
 29 
Viktor Zubkov
(Politician, Entrepreneur, Economist)
Viktor Zubkov
3
Birthdate: September 15, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sverdlovsk Oblast

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.

 30 
Wassily Leontief
(Nobel Prize Winner in Economics)
Wassily Leontief
3
Birthdate: August 5, 1906
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: February 5, 1999
Wassily Leontief was a Soviet-American economist best remembered for his work on input-output analysis, which earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1973. He has also contributed to other areas of economics like international trade. The Global Development and Environment Institute has established the Leontief Prize in his honor; the award is presented every year to deserving candidates.
 31 
Alexander Herzen
(Russian Writer and Thinker Known as the ‘Father of Russian Socialism’)
Alexander Herzen
3
Birthdate: April 6, 1812
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 21, 1870

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.

 32 
Wolf Messing
(Psychic)
Wolf Messing
4
Birthdate: September 10, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Góra Kalwaria, Poland
Died: November 8, 1974
 33 
Elvira Nabiullina
(Russian Economist and Governor of the Bank of Russia)
Elvira Nabiullina
3
Birthdate: October 29, 1963
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ufa, Russia

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.

 34 
Alexey Miller
(Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Russian energy company Gazprom)
Alexey Miller
3
Birthdate: January 31, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
 35 
Alexander Luria
(Soviet Neuropsychologist Regarded as the 'Father of Neuropsychology')
Alexander Luria
3
Birthdate: July 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kazan, Russia
Died: August 14, 1977

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.

 36 
Alexander Blok
3
Birthdate: November 28, 1880
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 7, 1921
 37 
Lev Shestov
(Former existentialist and religious philosopher best known for his critiques of both philosophic rationalism and scientism)
Lev Shestov
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1866
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: November 19, 1938
 38 
Vasily Nikitich Mitrokhin
3
Birthdate: March 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ryazan Oblast, Russia
Died: January 23, 2004

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.

 39 
Nikolay Chernyshevsky
3
Birthdate: July 24, 1828
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saratov, Russia
Died: October 29, 1889
 40 
Leonid Kantorovich
(Russian Mathematician and Winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Economics)
Leonid Kantorovich
3
Birthdate: January 19, 1912
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: April 7, 1986

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.

 41 
Yegor Gaidar
(Former Acting Prime Minister of Russia)
Yegor Gaidar
3
Birthdate: March 19, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: December 16, 2009

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.

 42 
Igor Smirnov
(Politician, Engineer, Economist)
Igor Smirnov
2
Birthdate: October 23, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

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.

 43 
Wolfgang Köhler
(Psychologist)
Wolfgang Köhler
3
Birthdate: January 21, 1887
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tallinn, Estonia
Died: June 11, 1967
 44 
Alexander Oparin
(Former Biochemist known for contributions to the theory of the origin of life, oacervates)
Alexander Oparin
3
Birthdate: March 2, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Uglich, Russia
Died: April 21, 1980
 45 
Georgi Plekhanov
(Russian Philosopher, Marxist Theoretician and Founder of Social-Democratic Movement in Russia)
Georgi Plekhanov
4
Birthdate: December 11, 1856
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gryazinsky District, Russia
Died: May 30, 1918

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.

 46 
Wladimir Köppen
(Geographer)
Wladimir Köppen
3
Birthdate: October 7, 1846
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg
Died: June 22, 1940

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.

 47 
Pavel Milyukov
(Russian Liberal Politician and Former Member of the Russian State Duma (1906 - 1917))
Pavel Milyukov
3
Birthdate: January 27, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 31, 1943
 48 
Ariel Durant
(Researcher)
Ariel Durant
3
Birthdate: May 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Died: October 25, 1981
 49 
Pyotr Aven
(Head of Alfa-Bank)
Pyotr Aven
2
Birthdate: March 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
 50 
Andrei Platonov
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Voronezh, Russia
Died: January 5, 1951