Famous Russian Intellectuals & Academics

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.

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

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 1 Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov
4
Famous As: Physiologist
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

Lev Vygotsky
4
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: November 17, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Orsha
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

Peter Kropotkin
5
Famous As: Anarchist, Socialist & Historian
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. 

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 4 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
9
Famous As: Novelist
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.

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 5 Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand
25
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 2, 1905
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 6, 1982

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American philosopher and writer. Apart from publishing two best-selling novels, Ayn Rand is credited with developing a philosophical system called Objectivism. Over the years, Ayn Rand has been a major influence among American conservatives and libertarians. Some of the famous personalities influenced by her include Amber Heard, Vince Vaughn, Jimmy Wales, Ayelet Shaked, and Mary Ruwart.

 6 Helena Blavatsky

Helena Blavatsky
4
Famous As: Writer, Co-founder of the Theosophical Society
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.

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 7 George Gurdjieff

George Gurdjieff
5
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 13, 1866
Sun Sign: Capricorn
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.

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 8 Mikhail Bakunin

Mikhail Bakunin
6
Famous As: Philosopher
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.    

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 9 Yulia Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya
4
Famous As: Economist
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 Sabina Spielrein

Sabina Spielrein
4
Famous As: Psychiatrist
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. 

 11 Nikolai Bukharin

Nikolai Bukharin
4
Famous As: Politician
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.

 12 Zinovia Dushkova

Zinovia Dushkova
4
Famous As: Writer
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.

 13 Sergey Shoygu

Sergey Shoygu
4
Famous As: Politician, Military personnel, Economist
Birthdate: May 21, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chadan

 14 Aleksandr Dugin

Aleksandr Dugin
13
Famous As: Analyst
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.

 15 Nicholas Roerich

Nicholas Roerich
3
Famous As: Painter
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.

 16 Mikhail Bakhtin

Mikhail Bakhtin
5
Famous As: Philosopher
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.

 17 Alexander Bogdanov

Alexander Bogdanov
3
Famous As: Physician
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.

 18 Roman Jakobson

Roman Jakobson
3
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: October 11, 1896
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 18, 1982

 19 Wassily Leontief

Wassily Leontief
3
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Economics
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.

 20 Vladimir Propp

Vladimir Propp
3
Famous As: Folklorist
Birthdate: April 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 22, 1970

 21 Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin
55
Famous As: Former Premier of the Soviet Union
Birthdate: April 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ulyanovsk, Russia
Died: January 21, 1924

Vladimir Lenin played a key role in the history of Russian politics by developing a political ideology called Leninism. During and after his lifetime, Lenin had a massive influence over international communist movement. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and significant personalities of the 20th century.

 22 Vagit Alekperov

Vagit Alekperov
3
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Engineer, Economist
Birthdate: September 1, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baku

 23 Pitirim Sorokin

Pitirim Sorokin
3
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: January 21, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Knyazhpogostsky District
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.

 24 P. D. Ouspensky

P. D. Ouspensky
3
Famous As: philosopher, writer
Birthdate: March 4, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: October 2, 1947

 25 Élie Metchnikoff

Élie Metchnikoff
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kupiansk Raion
Died: July 15, 1916

 26 Vladimir Solovyov

Vladimir Solovyov
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 28, 1853
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: August 13, 1900

 27 Nikolai Vavilov

Nikolai Vavilov
3
Famous As: botanist, biologist, explorer, geneticist, geographer
Birthdate: November 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: January 26, 1943

 28 Alexander Herzen

Alexander Herzen
3
Famous As: Father of Russian socialism
Birthdate: April 6, 1812
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow
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.

 29 Yevgeny Primakov

Yevgeny Primakov
3
Famous As: Prime Minister of Russia from 1998 to 1999
Birthdate: October 29, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: June 26, 2015

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.

 30 Viktor Zubkov

Viktor Zubkov
3
Famous As: Politician, Entrepreneur, Economist
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.

 31 Mikhail Kasyanov

Mikhail Kasyanov
3
Famous As: Politician, Economist
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.

 32 Nikolai Berdyaev

Nikolai Berdyaev
3
Famous As: Former philosopher who emphasized the existential spiritual significance of human freedom and the human person
Birthdate: March 18, 1874
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Died: March 24, 1948

 33 Yegor Gaidar

Yegor Gaidar
3
Famous As: Economist
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.

 34 Viktor Chernomyrdin

Viktor Chernomyrdin
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 9, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chernyy Otrog, Russia
Died: November 3, 2010

Viktor Chernomyrdin had started his career at an oil refinery. He later became the Russian gas industry minister and the prime minister of Russia. He was also widely infamous for his idioms in syntactically incorrect language, later named Chernomyrdinki. A new diesel-electric icebreaker has been named after him.

 35 Alexander Blok

Alexander Blok
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 28, 1880
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 7, 1921

 36 Lev Shestov

Lev Shestov
3
Famous As: philosopher, university teacher
Birthdate: January 31, 1866
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kiev
Died: November 19, 1938

 37 Nikolay Chernyshevsky

Nikolay Chernyshevsky
3
Famous As: Critic
Birthdate: July 24, 1828
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saratov, Russia
Died: October 29, 1889

 38 Alexey Miller

Alexey Miller
3
Famous As: Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Russian energy company Gazprom
Birthdate: January 31, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia

 39 Leonid Kantorovich

Leonid Kantorovich
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: January 19, 1912
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
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.

 40 Alexander Oparin

Alexander Oparin
3
Famous As: biologist, biochemist, chemist
Birthdate: March 2, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Uglich
Died: April 21, 1980

 41 Sergey Naryshkin

Sergey Naryshkin
3
Famous As: Politician, Economist
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.

 42 Elvira Nabiullina

Elvira Nabiullina
3
Famous As: Economist, Politician, Banker
Birthdate: October 29, 1963
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ufa

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.

 43 Wolfgang Köhler

Wolfgang Köhler
3
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: January 21, 1887
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tallinn, Estonia
Died: June 11, 1967

 44 Mikhail Fradkov

Mikhail Fradkov
3
Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: September 1, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Samara

The current director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Mikhail Fradkov had begun his career working with the Soviet embassy in India. He has also been the prime minister of Russia and has headed the Foreign Intelligence Service. His was the first Russian government to voluntarily resign.

 45 Alexander Luria

Alexander Luria
3
Famous As: Neuropsychologist
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.

 46 Georgi Plekhanov

Georgi Plekhanov
4
Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: November 29, 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.

 47 Alexander Rutskoy

Alexander Rutskoy
3
Famous As: Politician, Military personnel, Economist
Birthdate: September 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Khmelnytskyi

Russian politician and ex-Soviet military officer Alexander Rutskoy served as the only Vice President of Russia. He also served asthe Governor of Kursk Oblast for four years and is most noted for playing a key role during Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, when the Russian parliament impeached Russian president Boris Yeltsin and proclaimed Rutskoy as the acting president of Russia.

 48 Igor Smirnov

Igor Smirnov
2
Famous As: Politician, Engineer, Economist
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.

 49 Ariel Durant

Ariel Durant
3
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: May 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Died: October 25, 1981

 50 Pavel Milyukov

Pavel Milyukov
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: January 27, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 31, 1943