Being the largest country in the world, occupying one-eighth of the world’s inhabited land, having the largest forests and mineral reserves, and its lakes containing 25 percent of the fresh water in the world as well as having the largest stock of weapons of mass destruction, Russia was one of the two superpowers. With its economy now in shambles, it is no longer influential enough and has lost its superpower status, at least for the time being, just like the British Empire which also had been a super power. America alone enjoys this status now, while China is regarded by some as the second superpower. Russia has been an amalgam of east and west, and its history is that of serfdom, tsardom, Leninism, Marxism, and socialism but perhaps never of democracy. Is spite of its totalitarian history, Russia has produced great men out of common folks as mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
Dimitri Voinovich Mendeleev was born to Ivan Pavlovich Mendeleev and Maria Dmitrievna Mendeleev in Verkhnie, Aremzyani, Russian Empire on February 8, 1834 and died in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire on February 2, 1907 at the age of 72. He was educated at Gymnasium, Tobolsk and the Main Pedagogical Institute, St. Petersburg. He worked on the capillarity of liquids, spectroscopy, and the mixing of water and alcohol and earned his doctorate. He conducted research on the composition of petroleum helping found the first petroleum refinery while emphasizing the importance of petroleum as a stock of petrochemicals and commented on the non-renewability of the fossil fuels. He said that burning petroleum as a fuel ‘…would be akin to firing up a kitchen stove with bank notes.’ He developed the famous Periodic Table of Elements and applying it predicted the properties of the then undiscovered elements. In 1906, the Noble Committee for Chemistry recommended to the Swedish Academy to award the Noble Prize in Chemistry in 1906 to Mendeleev for his creating the Periodic Table of Elements.
2. Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was born to Alexey Ivanovich and Timofeyevna Gagarina in a small village Klushino, Gzhatsk on March 9, 1934 and died in Novosyolovo, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union on March 27, 1968 at the age of 34. After his death, the village where he was born was renamed as Gagarin after him. He was the first human being to step into outer space when he completed an orbit around the Earth on April 12, 1961. Neil Armstrong, who died only recently following his bypass surgery on August 25, 2012, acknowledged the importance of Yuri Gagarin’s mission wholeheartedly. To honor Yuri Gagarin, Armstrong left one of his medals on the surface of the Moon after he landed upon it along with Buzz Aldrin. Gagarin was honored with the highest Russian title, Hero of the Soviet Union. His image appears on many Russian coins, and he is honored in different ways the world over.
3. Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev was born to a peasant family in Stravopol Krai, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist (SFSR), Soviet Union on March 2, 1931. As a teenager, he operated a combine harvester on collective farms. He graduated from the Moscow State University and had been General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991. As the last Head of State of the Soviet Union, he served from 1988 to 1991 when the union was dissolved ending the supremacy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. His summit conference with U.S. President Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, and in its recognition he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1990. He was also honored with many other awards including: Ottohan Peace Medal, Harvey Prize, honorary doctorates and master’s, etc.
4. Mikhail Sholokhov
Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov was born to Aleksander Mikhailovich and Anastasia Danolovna Chernikova in Veshenskaya, Russian Empire on May 24, 1905 and died in Veshenskaya on February 21, 1984. He started writing his famous novel And Quiet Flows the Don in 1926 and completed it in 1940. The novel earned him the Stalin Prize, and in 1965 he won the Nobel Prize for it. The novel relating to Socialist realism is the most read book in Russia.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was born in Simbirsk, Russian Empire on April 22, 1870 and died in Gorki, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union on January 21, 1924 of a stroke at the age of 53. He attended the University of Kazan and later received his degree in law. For his active participation in the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, he was arrested and sent to Siberia for three years after which he fled to Europe and lived in Germany, England, and Switzerland. He led the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Socialist Democratic Labor Party and played an important role in overthrowing the Russian Provisional Government and in forming the world’s first Socialist State; Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFS). He served as Premier of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. He is remembered as a dictator by a few and as a champion of the working class by many.
Joseph Vissarion Stalin was born in Gori, Tiflis, Russian Empire on December 18, 1878 and died in Kountze Dacha near Moscow, Russian FSSR, Soviet Union on March 5, 1953. He was an active Bolshevik revolutionary who helped in the realization of the 1917 Russian Revolution. He was the Premier of the Soviet Union from May 6, 1941 to March 5, 1953. With the implementation of a Centralized Command Economy and Five Year Plans, he converted the country into the second biggest economy after World War II. The change was too sudden to absorb the repercussions resulting in the terrible Soviet famine of 1932-1933. Thousands of opponents were killed during the period of his Great Purge. He fostered relations with the Chinese Mao Zedong and North Korean Kim Il-Sung. Russia became a super power, a second nuclear power, and entered into the space age during his reign.
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was born in Pokrovskoye, Siberia, Russian Empire on January 22, 1869 and died in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire on December 29, 1916 at the age of 47. He was an Orthodox Christian and mystic who greatly influenced the Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family. The tsar considered the influential Rasputin as a real threat but did not remove him from his influential position but instead changed him to the Minister of the Interior for his lack of control over the press. He is considered to have discredited the tsarist government. While a few consider him a mad monk, many take him in high regard as a staret, the elder holy man.
Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova was born to Nicholas II of Russia and Alexandra of Fvodorovna; Alix of Hesse in Paterhof, Russian Empire on June 18, 1901 and died in Yekaterinburg, Russian SFSR on July 17, 1918 at the age of 17. Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, she, along with her family, died in an extrajudicial murder by the Bolshevik Secret Police. Her possible survival has been ruled out after DNA testing by the U.S. Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. In order to gain cheap popularity, many women claimed to be Anastasia, Anna Anderson being the most notorious among them.
Yelena Gadzhievna Isinbayeva was born in Volgograd, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union on June 3, 1982. She is 1.74 m (5’8’) tall and weighs 65 kgs. She is the most decorated Russian athlete. She won an Olympic gold medal twice, first in 2004, and the second in 2008. She had been a major champion on nine occasions. She became and remains the first and only woman to clear the five meter barrier in the pole vault as of 2012. She had been named the Female Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) in 2004, 2005, and 2008. She is considered the best pole vaulter of all time.
10. Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky was born to Prince Yarslav and Theodosia in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Vladimir-Suzdal, Russia on May 30, 1220 and died in Gorodets, Vladimir-Suzdal, Russia on November 14, 1263 at the age of 43. He was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir. He attained unparalleled fame on account of his victories over the German and Swedish invaders. Archbishop Cyril of the metropolitan said on his burial, ‘My children, you should know that the sun of the Suzdalian land has set. There will never be another prince like him in the Suzdalian land.’
With all the big resources being intact, Russia has every potential to regain its lost superpower status. With all the wrong policies being vehemently followed, the current superpower is very likely to accelerate the realization of the logical result, its ultimate fate being the loss of its superpower status. The only thing of permanent value in this world is change, and the power status is no exception to it.