14 famous Russians you should know

Some of the World Cup 2018 visitors have already learned some Russian. Most of them are now familiar with Alexander Golovin and Artem Dziuba. However, Russia is the homeland of many more athletes, scientists, writers, artists, and politicians that the world, by no means could not go without. Here are 14 famous Russians you should know.




Mathew Arnold, the 19th-century British poet, and critic, once admitted that Tolstoy’s writing is not a work of art but a piece of life. Undoubtedly, his greatest and at the same time longest novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are considered pinnacles of the world literature.




Surprisingly enough, his grandfather was a black African slave sent to Peter the Great as a gift. Hardly could he imagine that his descendant would be among the most famous Russians the world has ever known.


It is hard to highlight particular works of his, though Eugene Onegin and Boris Godunov are a good choice to know Pushkin. The latter has a detailed description of 16th-century Moscow and a perfect choice to read in one of the Moscow parks.


Pushkin was scarcely a forgiving person and would fight for his honor in duels. It was during one of them when he would receive his fatal wound from Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès, a French officer serving with the Chevalier Guard Regiment.




In the 17th century, the Russian Tsar revolutionized the-then Russian Empire paved its way to Europe. He created a strong navy, established control over the Orthodox church, introduced an administrative division of the territory and founded Saint Petersburg that was the country’s capital for some time. Anyway, if you created a city, would you not make it the capital?


The Russian Emperor was an outstandingly charismatic and genius ruler and is considered one of the most prominent and famous Russians. Unfortunately, he was lame, because of unequal leg length, so he would walk with a stick and wear special boots to compensate his flaw. Rumor has it, he made the stick and boots himself when traveling in Europe.




Some people firmly believe he invented vodka. Though it is not true, Mendeleev did find out a perfect proportion (40% alc) of alcohol and water. However, the reason he is on the list is that he developed the periodic classification of the elements, which no scientist can go without. Legend has it, he came up with the classification during a nap. So dreaming more+sleeping more might as well be a success formula.




Valya, as friends and colleagues would often call her, was the first woman to fly into space. Inspired by Yuri Gagarin, she spent 3 days surrounded by black matter and orbited Earth 48 times. Her space trip didn’t go as planned though. At a certain point, the spacecraft started to move away from the planet’s orbit. Tereshkova timely noticed it, which allowed Soviet scientists to quickly develop a new landing algorithm. In the end, the astronaut landed safely near today’s Kazakhstan-Mongolia-China border.




You could’ve heard some of his creations like “Groove on” with Snoop Dogg and “Love you” with Busta Rhymes. Timati is a rather controversial, though popular Russian hip-hop artist. Lately, however, he has become more famous thanks to his clothing brand “Black Star Wear” and a burger shop “Black Star Burger”. Even Furious Pete couldn’t bypass Timati’s eatery.




Many soccer aficionados view Yashin as the best goalkeeper in the history of football. And there are several reasons for that. He helped the USSR’s team to win multiple championships, including FIFA and UEFA. But his big break was during 1963 England vs Rest of the World match, when he made a number of spectacular saves and received a prestigious award of Ballon d’Or.


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Apart from being a gorgeous woman, Maria has won five Grand Slam titles and is truly a living legend of tennis. As though it wasn’t enough, she is considered the top earner in female sports with a total of $22 million on her bank accounts.  


Despite being caught cheating, Maria has recently made a comeback, confirming her title of a prominent athlete and one of the most famous Russians.




This kindly-looking man is actually an MMA fighter named as the all-time greatest MMA Heavyweight fighter by ESPN, Fight Matrix, and Sherdog. As it often happens, the athlete turned to politics and is now a member of a Russian political party “Edianaia Rossia” (United Russia).




With a total of $12.1 billion, he ranks 68th in Forbes list and the one who owns Chelsea FC. Abramovich is a manifestation of what a Russian oligarch looks like, having tight connections to the government, yachts, fancy suits…you name it.




One of Google’s co-founders was actually born in Moscow. He is an active philanthropist and has donated more than $100 million to charity. When not on the job, he is a caring father of two kids and a loyal husband. A


Additionally, Brin ranks number 13 on Forbes’ list of The World’s Billionaires with a net worth of $47.5 billion.




A French-born, Russian/American journalist has become famous for his commentaries on the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Today, he is a contributor to a number of prominent media outlets, as well as a host of different talk shows. According to the journalist he has 3 main hobbies – taking interviews, playing tennis and speaking to people.




Russian media personality is most famous for being a host “Evening Urgant” late-night talk show. Though it does copy some of the American talk show features, Urgant still adds a nice Russian uniqueness to it, that even Stephen Colbert noticed.




This guy was the leader of Bolshevik’s movement, which overthrew Russian monarchy during 1917 Revolution. As a result, the USSR was formed and Lenin became the head of the government of the Soviet Russian.


Apart from being one of the greatest politicians and most famous Russians in history, Vladimir Ilyich is the author of multiple papers on political and social science.


We also strolled around the city center asking soccer fans about prominent Muscovites. The results of our interview were absolutely unexpected and hilarious! Sit back and enjoy the video:

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