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Famous Yaroslavl People and Events


The First Woman in Space

In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova from a small village of Bolshoe Maslennikovo in Yaroslavl Region made history by becoming the first woman in space. Her flight on board the Vostok-6 spaceship lasted almost three days and nights form June 16th till June 19th. When she was 17 she started working at the Yaroslavl Tyre Plant and later worked at Krasniy Perekop, a textile manufacture, where she became the Komsomol Committee Secretary. Valentina took up parachute jumping, where she was eventually noticed and admitted to the cosmonaut corps of the Air Forces Cosmonaut Training Centre. 


After her space flight Valentina Tereshkova continued her service in the cosmonaut corps. For her achievements she received many awards and titles, such as the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and the honorary title of the Greatest Woman of the 20th century.


Designer of the T-34 Battle Tank

The Soviet Union and its allies would not have won World War II without the Soviet Army utilising the formidable T-34 battle tank, the mainstay of the Soviet armoured forces at the time. 


Chief designer of this fighting vehicle, Mikhail Koshkin (1898-1940), was born in the village of Brynchagi not far from Pereslavl-Zalessky. His creation, a fundamentally new track-type tank, was designed at the Kharkov Steam-Locomotive Plant. The development headed by Koshkin lasted for two years and was approved by Stalin in the spring of 1940. On the way back to Kharkov, one of the tanks fell into water and while helping with its recovery, Koshkin got wet through and soon fell seriously ill. The designer died shortly after and never saw the large-scale production of his creation.


Today the T-34 is one of the most recognisable symbols of World War II. The latest modification of the T-34 (the T-34-85) – is still in use in some countries around the world. Hundreds of T-34’s are installed as war memorials in many towns of Russia - in commemoration of fathers and grandfathers who participated in World War II. There is one proudly displayed on the main road between Moscow and Yaroslavl (near Pereslavl-Zalessky).


Famous Naval Fleet Commander 

The famous Russian Naval Fleet Commander Fyodor Ushakov (1745-1817) was born in the village of Burnakovo, situated on the bank of the Volga river in Yaroslavl province. He studied naval science in St. Petersburg. Ushakov was one of the Black Sea Fleet founders becoming its commander in 1790. He developed and implemented special tactics for his fleet which resulted in a series of great victories over the Turkish fleet and enabled him to capture the “unassailable” fortress of Corfu within just a few days. The Emperor honoured that victory by making Ushakov an Admiral. His name is the pride of the Russian Fleet and the Ushakov order and medal are the symbol of glory, valour and honour of the marines. In 2001 Fyodor Ushakov was canonised.


First Russian Public Theatre

At the age of 19, Fyodor Volkov (1729-1763), the adopted son of a Yaroslavl merchant Polushkin, created his own theatrical company. This company first performed in barns that had previously been used for storage. After achieving great success with this venture, a one hundred seat wooden theatre was build on the bank of the Volga specially for performing dramas and comedies.


Thus in 1750 the first professional public theatre appeared in Russia. Its founder, an actor, production director, scenic designer and playwright, Fyodor Volkov later gained the Tsar’s Household acknowledgement and was appointed “the first Russian actor”.


The drama theatre and the square outside it in Yaroslavl bear the name of Fyodor Volkov. Since 2001 the city has hosted the annual International Volkov Theatre Festival.


Great Russian Poet

Nikolay Nekrasov (1821-1877/1878) was a very famous author of literary compositions about Russian women and farmers life. He moved to Yaroslavl at the age of three to live on the family estate located in the village of Greshnevo and he studied at school in Yaroslavl. In St. Petersburg Nikolay Nekrasov was actively engaged in literary work and became an editor and publisher of forward literary magazines.


In his Karabikha manor near Yaroslavl the poet took rest from the hustle and bustle of urban life, sought his inspiration and created his masterpieces. Here he created the most famous of his poems such as: “Jack Frost”, chapters of the poem “Who does live well in Russia?”, “Russian Women”, “Old Mazay and Hares”. Nekrasov’s “Muse of Vengeance and Grief” was especially sensitive to injustice and human suffering. 


Today Karabikha manor houses the reserve museum of the great Russian poet. Every year the All-Russian Poetry Festival is held here on the first Saturday of July.


The Man Behind Perestroika and Glasnost

Alexander Yakovlev (1923-2005) the Soviet publicist and academic, was a famous political and public figure. He was born into a poor peasant family in the village of Korolevo near Yaroslavl. He took part in World War II, was badly wounded in Leningrad and, as a result of his disability, was discharged from the army. In 1944, being a student of the Yaroslavl Teacher Training Institute, he became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He occupied his first Party positions in the Yaroslavl Regional Committee and from there he was transferred to the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Moscow. For an “improper publication”, Alexander Yakovlev was exiled (as the Russian Ambassador to Canada). During his time in Canada he met Mikhail Gorbachev, and as a result of Gorbachev’s interventions, Yakovlev was recalled from to the Soviet Union.


Alexander Yakovlev occupied key positions in the Central Committee of the Communist Party; he was the chief ideologist of perestroika, and a leader in the call for democracy and glasnost. He introduced freedom of the press, contributed to revival of the Orthodox Church, headed the committee for rehabilitation of the victims of political repressions and called for judgment over the Bolshevik regime. 


A Great Singer

Yaroslavl was home of the famous Russian opera singer Leonid Vitalievich Sobinov (1872-1934). A lawyer by profession, he worked as a trainee to the renowned attorney Fyodor Plevako. Once at court, when it was the turn of attorney Sobinov to speak, the Judge made a remark: “Well, let us listen to what you are going to sing to us today”. After this event Leonid Sobinov made up his mind to be a singer. Later he wrote that he was doomed “to be the best singer among lawyers and the best lawyer among singers”.


At the age of 25 Leonid Sobinov became a soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre where he worked for 36 seasons. He enjoyed tremendous popularity. He was a soloist of two theatres – the Bolshoi Theatre and the Mariinsky Theatre. His repertoire also included primary arias at Italy's premier opera house, “La Scala”. He was often referred to as “the first Russian tenor” by his contemporaries.


Yaroslavl music college is named after Sobinov, and there is a museum in the house where the singer was born and where he spent his early days. A monument to Leonid Sobinov was erected in Yaroslavl in 2007.


World Class Animator

Born in 1957 in the village of Prechistoye of Yaroslavl Region, Alexander Petrov is the only Russian animation artist, producer and artistic director whose works have been nominated for the World renowned American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Award (Oscar) four times.


In 2000 Alexander Petrov won the “Oscar” in the “best short animation film” category for his film The Old Man and the Sea. Alexander Petrov has been offered many opportunities to live and continue his work abroad, but he chooses to remain in Russia and in his native town of Yaroslavl where he continues to work to the present day.


The 1,000 Ruble Note

In 2000, the Bank of Russia issued a 1,000 Ruble note which has become the most used banknote in the country. The note contains several images which are symbols of Yaroslavl. 

The face side of the note shows the city founder, Yaroslavl the Wise, the Yaroslavl coat of arms, Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and the chapel of The Kazanskaya Virgin. The reverse side of the note shows a picture of the Church of John the Forerunner.