Famous people of Irkutsk

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Ermak Timofeievich ( date of birth unknown  - died in 1585 )
Cossack chieftain. With his campaign of 1581-85 he paved the way for annexation of Siberia to Russia and its conquest. He is the subject of many popular songs and legends, 16th-century chronicles, novels, novellas and poems immortalizing his courage and talent as a military leader.

Nikolai Nikolayevich Muraviov-Amursky (1809-81), Count, Russian statesman, diplomat and general. As Governor of the Yenisei province, Governor-General of Eastern Siberia between 1847 and 1861, he did much to help the development and study of the region. He encouraged the local intelligentsia and political exiles to do likewise, and treated the Decembrists liberally. He facilitated the development of the region and the expansion of trade and supported geographical and exploratory expeditions. As Russia's emissar, he signed the Aigun Treaty with China in 1858. For developing the Amur Region the title of "Count" was bestowed upon him and the epithet "Amursky" was added to his surname.

Shelikhov Grigory Shelikhov (1748-1795), explorer, seafarer, scientist.
A courageous traveller and sailor, Russian merchant Grigory Shelikhov sailed east of the continent of Asia in 1784 and founded the first Russian settlement on Alaska's western coast and the Aleutian Islands. Shelikhov is called "the Russian Columbus." Today there is a city named after him.

Vitus Bering (1681-1741), sea navigator, officer of the Russian Navy, naval commodore, leader of the first (1725-30) and the second (1733-43) Kamchatka expeditions. He reached the shores of North America and discovered several of the Aleutian Islands and the strait between Asia and America. His name was given to the sea in the north of the Pacific Ocean and to the island and strait between the Chukchi Peninsula and Alaska.

Верховный Правитель России адмирал КолчакFerdinand Petrovich Wrangel (1796-1870), Russian seafarer, admiral, Honorary Member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, one of the founders of the Russian Geographical Society. Between 1820 and 1824 he headed the Kolyma detachment of the expedition exploring the northern regions. Together with his fellow travellers he wrote a description of the Siberian coast from the River Indigirka to the Koliuchinskaya Inlet. From questionnaires and conversations with the local population he discovered an island in the Arctic Ocean which was later given his name. He was the author of A Voyage Along the Northern Shores of Siberia and Across the Arctic Ocean (1841). A mountain and a cape in Alaska were also named after him.

Johann Gottlieb Georgi (1729-1802), Academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Professor of Natural History and Chemistry. In 1772-73 he completed a voyage around Lake Baikal, charted a map of the lake, studied Siberia and Altai (the mountain system of Asia within the territory of the USSR, Mongolia and China), and wrote the first general demographic survey on the peoples of Russia, A Description of All the Peoples inhabiting the Russian State, as Well as Their Daily Rituals, Beliefs, Customs, Clothing, Dwellings and Other Characteristics (1776-77)

Johann Georg Gmelin (1709-55), Professor of Chemistry and Natural History. Between 1733 and 1743 he journeyed through Tobolsk, Semipalatinsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, lrkutsk, Yakutsk, and back through Tomsk and Verkhoturye to St. Petersburg, making vast collections in the taiga and tundra. Between 1747 and 1769 the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences published his four-volume work, Flora of Siberia. In 1751 his diaries were published in Gottingen under the title Journey Across Siberia, which was later translated into many European languages.

Alexander Humboldt (1769-1859), famous 19th-century German naturalist, Honorary Member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He travelled extensively throughout Russia, including Siberia, and wrote a work about it entitled Central Asia, which was translated into Russian in 1915.

Stepan Petrovich Krasheninnikov (1711-55), Russian scientist, Academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Between 1737 and 1741 he studied the Kamchatka Peninsula and wrote the major scholarly work, A Description of the Land of Kamchatka (1751), the first work on Kamchatka 's geography, with a description of the language, daily life and history of its indigenous peoples.

Karl Friedrich Ledebur (1785-1851), German botanist. After being invited to Russia, he became the director of the Botanical Gardens and a professor at Derpt (Tartu) University. He travelled through Altai (1826), where he gathered and described about 400 new types of plants.

Alexander Fedorovich Middendorf (1815-94), Russian traveller and naturalist, member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Between 1842 and 1845 he journeyed through Siberia and the Far East of the country. His account of his visit to Taimyr, the Okhotsk Sea area and the Amur River and other remote regions of the little-explored zone was the most complete naturalist and historical description of Siberia to date. Of particular importance were his conclusions on the spreading of permafrost and the zone distribution of vegetation. He published a book entitled A Journey to the North and East of Siberia (Vol. 1-1860; Vol. 2-1877). A cape on the island Novaya Zemlya and a bay on the Taimyr Peninsula were named after him.

Gerard Friedrich Miller (1705-83), historian and scholar of early texts, member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, one of the first historians of Siberia. Between 1733 and 1743 he took part in expeditions to study Siberia, researched the archives of over twenty towns including Tobolsk, Yakutsk, Irkutsk and Nerchinsk, and collected highly valuable material on Russian history. His main work, A History of Siberia (up to the 1660s) was published in Russian in 1750.

Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811), naturalist, geographer and traveller, member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Between 1768 and 1774 he headed an Academy of Sciences expedition which studied many regions of Russia, including Southern Siberia (Altai, Lake Baikal and the region to the east of Baikal). He described many new species of mammals, birds, fish and insects. His works include A Journey Through Various Provinces of the Russian State, A History of the Mongolian People, and Asian-Russian Fauna. A volcano on the Kuril Islands and a reef off New Guinea were named in his honour.

Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-46), zoologist, botanist and scientific assistant of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. From 1740 to 1741, and 1742 to 1743 he did research in Kamchatka, sailed with Vitus Bering to the shores of Alaska, and spent the winter on an island which was later named Bering Island. He catalogued many sea animals for the first time, including the sea cow. His books include About Sea Animals, and A Voyage from Kamchatka to America.

Richard Karlovich Maak (1825-86), Russian naturalist, researcher of Siberia and the country's Far East. Between 1853 and 1859 he took part in expeditions which described for the first time the land surface, geology and population of the basins of the Amur and Ussuri rivers. His works include A Journey to the River Amur Commissioned by the Siberian Branch of the Russian Geographical Society in 1855, and A Journey Through the Valley of the River Ussuri and the Vilui Region of the Yakutsk Province.

Karl Ivanovich Maximbvich (1827-91), Russian botanist, and member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In 1853-57 he travelled around the world, and in 1859-64, to the Far Fast and Japan. He spent two years in the Amur area, where he travelled down the Siberian rivers Shilka, Amur, Sungari, and Ussuri in a boat. He catalogued over a thousand species of plants in the Amur area where the flora had never been studied before. His work Firstungs of the Amur Flora (1859) is an outstanding work in Russian botanical studies.

Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskjold (1832-1901), Swedish geologist and geographer, Arctic explorer and member of the Stockholm Academy of Sciences. Between 1875 and 1876 he sailed from Sweden to the mouth of the Yenisei. Between 1878 and 1879 he was the first to complete a voyage through the North-Eastern straits from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. His name was given to the archipelago to the north of the island of Taimyr, to the bays off Novaya Zemlya and to the northeast of the Spitsbergen, and to a peninsula in the same area (the Nordenskjold Peninsula). He was an associate member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and an Honorary Member of the Russian Geographical Society.

Nikolai Mikhailovich Przhevalsky (1839-88), Russian geographer, traveller and researcher of Central Asia, Honorary Member of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Between 1867 and 1869 he headed an expedition to the Ussuri area, and in 1870-73, to Mongolia, China and Tibet. He determined the direction of the mountain ridges of Central Asia and discovered, described and made vast collections of previously unknown species of animals. His books include A Journey in the Ussuri Area in 1867-69 (1870), and From Kuldzha to Tian Shan and Beyond and to Lobnor (1878). His name was given to a town in Kirghizia, a ridge in the mountain system ot Kunlun, a glacier in Altal and many other geographical landmarks and species of animals and plants discovered by him. In 1891 the Russian Geographical Society established a silver medal and a prize in his honour, and in 1946 the Przhevalsky Gold Medal was instituted.

radishev.jpg (5730 bytes) A.N.Radishev (1749-1802), writer-revolutionary, exiled to Siberia.

Nikolai Stepanovich Turchaninov (1796-1863), Russian botanist. He held official posts in various organizations in Siberia and published a book entitled Baikal-Daur Flora (1842-1857) which was awarded a prize by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He catalogued over a hundred new species and over a thousand types of plants of Russia and many other countries.

Ivan Dementievich Chersky (1845-92), geologist, palaeontologist and geographer and researcher of Siberia. For his revolutionary activity he was demoted and sent as a soldier to Siberia and then, in 1869, was released from service for health reasons. With the encouragement of Siberian scientists he took up geology and paleontology. In 1871 he moved to Irkutsk and between 1873 and 1876 studied the Sayan Mountains, the Sayan and Angara regions, and later Lake Baikal and the sources of the Selenga, Lower Tunguska, Indigirka and Kolyma rivers. Many of his geological discoveries are still of significance. His discovery of a camp of prehistoric men belonging to the Paleolithic Age caused a sensation because until then it was believed that such ancient finds could only be unearthed on the European continent. His works include The Results of a Study of Lake Baikal (1886) - awarded an Academy gold medal and On the Geology of Inner Asia (1886). A mountainous region at Yakutia and the Magadan Region, a mountain ridge to the east of Lake Baikal and several mountain peaks near Lake Baikal were named in his honour.

Vladimir Afanasievich Obruchev (1863-1956), the eminent Russian geologist, Academician, Hero of Socialist Labour (the highest honorary title in the USSR). He wrote the classic multi-volume works The Geology of Siberia, and A History of the Geological Research of Siberia, as well as the popular science fiction novels Plutonia (1924) and The Land of Sannikov (1926), the travel books Gold Prospectors in the Desert (1928) and In the Heart of Central (1951). Obruchev was awarded the Prizhevalsky Prize, the large gold medal, two Chikhachev prizes (1898 and 1925) from French Academy of Sciences, and the Lenin Prize (1950). There is a memorial plaque to Obruchev on the Regional Museum's building.

Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky (1772-1839), Russian statesmen,count, author of many bills and reforms in the early 19th century. In 1819 he was appointed Governor-General ot Siberia, where he initiated reforms in the region's management. On his return to St.Petersburg (1821) he became a founder of the Siberian commitee for the affairs of Russia beyond the Urals.

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Nureyev, Rudolf Hametovich (1938-1993), Russian-born ballet dancer and choreographer, perhaps the greatest virtuoso and most charismatic male dancer of his generation. Born near Irkutsk, he became a soloist with the Kirov Ballet (now the Saint Petersburg Ballet) in 1958. While on tour in 1961, Nureyev defected from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1962 he became associated with Britain's Royal Ballet, where he was often paired with British ballerina Margot Fonteyn. He was artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet from 1983 to 1989.

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