What you need to know

  • Modern education system

    • Entering a university

      Entering a higher education institution in Russia both citizens of Russia and foreigners have to submit the secondary school-leaving certificate or the secondary vocational education certificate. The admission is usually competitive based on judging the results of entrance examinations though sometimes it can be enough just to submit the secondary school-leaving certificate. Successful participation in school competitions in major subjects is also taken into consideration.

      But it is the entrance examination results which are the main criterion for entering a university. The number of entrance examinations and the demands to each of them are determined by every particular higher education institution. The examination subjects are determined in accord with the requirements of the faculties and the specific features of the education program for each particular speciality. However, these subjects should conform to the school studying programs: literature, mathematics, physics, foreign languages, chemistry, biology, history, etc

      Examinations in major subjects are also based on general school subjects but for some specialities in arts and physical training institutions. Applicants who have a secondary vocational education certificate in the corresponding speciality are enrolled as freshmen when doing a crash course.

      Both Russian citizens and foreigners who already have a higher education degree can be enrolled as freshmen or senior students. When a student is admitted for a second year or further years the admittance regulations and entrance program requirements are determined by every particular institution. The same concerns entrance exams for being admitted for the first year when taking a crash course. The higher education institution board can change the deadline of document submission and can cut the number of entrance examinations.

      Applicants from far-abroad as well as from the former Soviet Union republics are admitted to Russian higher education institutions:

      - on the basis of signed international agreements;

      - on the basis of special recommendations from the Ministry of Education and Science of Russian Federation; 

      - after single source contracts have been signed with a particular higher education institution and the studying has been paid for.

      Note: in some cases applicants from the former Soviet Union republics can be admitted on the competitive basis and their studying can be financed from the state budged; these terms are determined by every particular institution.

    • Priorities of Russian public education

      The state policy in the sphere of higher education in Russian Federation rests upon the following principles:

      - humanistic purposes of education with emphasis on universal human values and harmonious development of man, civil duties and human rights, environmental awareness, raising personal responsibility for the society and the family,

      - universal cultural space and uniting educational principles, preserving and developing national and regional traditions of Russian Federation as a multinational state with the help of the educational system,

      - availability of education to everyone, adaptation of the Russian education system to the knowledge level of applicants and students,

      - secular education in state higher education institutions,

      - freedom of thought and pluralism in the education system,

      - democracy, uniting state and public interests.

      The Ministry of Education and Science of Russian Federation makes it possible for citizens of Russia and foreigners of any ethnic, racial, religious group, of any sex, age, speaking any language, of any health state, etc to get education on the territory of Russian Federation.

      Citizens of Russian Federation have rights for having free of charge general secondary education and also basic vocational education.

      Getting free of charge secondary vocational, higher and postgraduate education in state institutions (each level has the same study program) is possible when admitted on competitive basis.

      For Russian citizens with disabilities there created special conditions for them to be able to get education and also to be well adapted to and involved in public activities. Persons of talent are assisted by the government in getting education, special funding to be educated in Russia and abroad can be provided as well.

    • Modernization of education in Russian Federation

      The state policy in the sphere of education conditioned carrying out a number of reforms and taking a variety of measures to improve education quality. New changes and approaches eliminated the one-sided principle which dominated in the 90s of the last century. In particular, those studying natural sciences and technical disciplines were far from studying any of liberal sciences. At the same time future linguists had a very narrow specialization. The higher education reforms were aimed at bridging the gap between liberal and economics sciences and technical and natural sciences. This approach in education helps a specialist to develop harmoniously and to get a sought-after qualification and also to be well aware of society needs and problems. Nowadays, there are two priorities in education development: fundamentality and humanization. It resulted in more academic hours assigned to the arts and social and economic sciences for students of technical faculties. The number has increased almost twice and is now more than 20% of class hours. In every institution there are now courses of political studies, social studies, philosophy, economics, cultural studies, etc

      At the same time students of liberal arts and future economists are to learn the basics of natural sciences and computer technology. In many institutions there were opened new and never tried before specialities to satisfy the demands of the modern market.

      Nowadays, we observe changing popularity of some specialities; in particular the most popular specialities are the law, economics, management, social studies and psychology. At the same time engineering specialities are coming down in popularity (in the 80s they had 40% of all other specialities).

    • The education system in Russian Federation

      The education system in Russian Federation includes:

      - several stages of education program (for general secondary and higher education) and the state education standard,

      - education institutions carrying out education programs in accord with the state education standard,

      - management authorities of the education system and education institutions.

      The education system structure in Russian Federation

      1) General education.

      2) Vocational education. 

      General education is aimed at intellectual, emotional, ethical and physical development of schoolchildren, at developing general and individual culture – ability to get adapted to any situation, to live in society and to build up a world outlook helping in future to select a vocation and master it.

      General education has 4 levels:

      a) preschool education

      b) elementary general education

      c) basic general education

      d) general secondary (complete) education.

      Vocational education is aimed at man’s consistent development and acquiring theoretical knowledge in a given speciality as well as practical skills. 

      In Russian Federation all the programs except those for general education should result in student’s mastering the selected speciality and after his getting a certificate they give him the right to work as a specialist.

      Vocational education also has 4 levels:

      a) elementary vocational education

      b) higher non-university education (secondary vocational education)

      c) higher vocational education

      d) postgraduate vocational education (graduated studies included).

    • General education

      General education has three main stages: 

      - elementary general education (4 years of studying)

      - basic general education (5 years of studying)

      - secondary general (complete) education (2 – 3 years of studying).

      Nowadays it takes 11 years to get general secondary (complete) education, it took 10 years before 1985. The longer education period is conditioned by admitting to school 6 year old children but not 7 year old children as it was before. That is why school leavers get the secondary general education certificate at the age of 17.  There are also extension schools and art schools in Russia where the maximum length of studying is 12 years.

      At this moment the system of general education includes 66 909 education institutions with the general number of 20 825 000 students. It should be mentioned that recently private schools have been developing quite fast, there have been opened more than 600 in recent years. 

      The complete official name of general education institutions is a secondary school.

      In addition to usual schools there are schools of new order: gymnasiums and lyceums; they can be either state or private. Sometimes students are to study there for more than 11 years as some education programs have more academic hours planned. 

      Standard general education programs have 34 weeks of studying a year and from 28 to 38 academic hours a week. The academic school year starts September 01 and finishes the beginning of June. In spite of that for some groups of students the studying period can vary in accord with a particular state education standard.

      In accordance with the basic study program of the general secondary education there are formulated state requirements to the number of academic hours and the required minimum of the education program.

      The basic education program has 2 parts.

      1) Arts. Including the Russian language, literature, social sciences (foreign languages, history, world history, economics, geography, law, political science, etc) and physical training.

      2) Natural sciences (with prevalence of mathematics; besides, it unites all the “technology” subjects – drawing, housecrafts, woodwork, metal work).

      Besides these subjects the obligatory general secondary education program has extra subjects including elective courses (developed taking into consideration regional peculiarities).

      There are 180 000 education institutions of different types in Russia. Every year the general number of students (preschool children, schoolchildren, students and specialists) in different education institutions is about 35 million, that’s about 23 % of the total population of Russian Federation.

      The Russian education system as well as the European one was formed during some centuries under the influence of the Orthodox Church and since the end of the 17th century the secular education has been given a priority under the influence of the Enlightenment. In the first decades of the 20th century education was considered the basic factor of social and economic development of Russia and illiteracy of the population was eradicated.

      Social and political changes at the beginning of 1990 and transition to market economy resulted in the education system reforms. The Russian Federation Constitution of 1993 and the Federal law “About education” (1992) with its amendments (1996) stated the rights of Russian citizens to get education and contributed to democratic changes in education. Private education institutions began to develop very fast. To reform the education system successfully there was adopted the Federal program of education development.

      In recent years the Russian education system experienced new reforms aimed at:

      - education diversity – opening new types of education institutions, implementing many-staged higher education (Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts but without rejecting the traditional specialist certificate), complete updating of study programs, etc

      - education democratization and academic freedom, creating conditions for organizational independence of education institutions 

      - improving quality of education by controlling and objective evaluation and estimation of acquired education

      - education programs contents including new approaches to teaching many subjects (social science, history, economics, law, etc).

    • Education of medical specialists

      In Russian Federation the length of studying in medical higher education institutions is 5 years for “dentistry” and “pharmacy” specialities and 6 years for general medicine specialities.

      The medical sphere in education is the only one which specialists on graduating do not have the right to work as full specialists. To have the right to work independently they are to have postgraduate education (1 year of internship or 2 -3 years of clinical studies) in the best hospitals, clinics and research centers. On graduating they get special certificates stating their right of independent practice.

    • Vocational Training

      In the Russian education system what is often meant by “Vocational Training” is  primary vocational training which constitutes only the first step towards qualification for the future specialist.

      “Vocational Training” is aimed towards preparing qualified workers whose specialisation is based on their basic general education. Corresponding training and preparation for theprofessional workforce occurs only on the basis of (completed) secondary education.

      The training programme for the primary vocational training based on basic general education differs from standard programmes for students with (complete) secondaryeducation.

      In Russia there are about 4,000 student centres, including private ones, teaching (primary) vocational training courses. Approximately 1.7 million people are receiving primaryvocational training. As a rule, it is not required to sit an entrance exam in order to gain entry into educational establishments at this level.

      There are two types of primary vocational education: vocational schools and lyceums.

    • The Marking System

      In the Russian Federation the system used for evaluating the standard of learning for secondary and higher education is the so-called five-grade system although, in reality, onlyfour of the grades are used:

      • Grade 5 – Excellent
      • Grade 4 – Good
      • Grade 3 – Satisfactory
      • Grade 2 – Unsatisfactory

      In the higher education system, there is also a dual system of marking: “Pass” and “Fail”. Students earn the right to further education only by passing their final examinations (Grades 5, 4, 3 and Pass). Certificates confirming the completion of secondary and higher education  are also issued on passing final examinations.

    • Higher Education Degrees

      A higher education degree is awarded to the student who has undergone an educational programme and passed final examinations at the levels (qualifications) of: Bachelor, Specialist, Master.

      When studying for a higher vocational training programme, exams are taken after every term. In the final year there is the State Final Certificate where usually there is a viva voce and the State Final Examination. On passing the examination a Bachelors Degree is awarded.

      The Bachelors Degree is awarded after 4 (and more) years of study. It constitutes the first stage of higher education in all fields with the exception of medicine. The Bachelors Degree allows the student to work in his chosen profession and also serves as a foundation for further study on the Masters programme.

      The Specialist Degree is the traditional graduation certificate of Russian Federation Ministry of Education institutions. On obtaining this, the Specialist may embark on professionalactivity or courses of the level of Candidate of Science or Doctor of Science. The degree of Specialist, in all fields, is awarded after 5-6 years study.

      In order to gain a Masters degree, it is required to undergo a special educational programme which usually lasts for around 2 years. Those with a Bachelors Degree in the samesubject have to sit an examination or undergo an interview. Those with a Bachelors Degree in a different subject to that of the Masters Course have to sit an additional examination.

      The Masters course concludes with the State Final Certificate Examination with a viva in defence of the Masters dissertation, and examinations. The Masters Degree, like that of the Specialist Degree, allows further study at the levels of Candidate and Doctor of Science.

      The higher education study programme allows for 36 weeks of study a year. The student's work-load should not exceed 54 hours a week. The student's total amount of lecture time is on average 27 hours a week (14 hours a week for Masters courses). For evening courses (part-time) lectures can be no less than 10 hours a week. For part-time courses no less than 160 hours of lectures a year are required. The academic year lasts from September to June/July of the next calendar year.

    • Higher Education Funding

      The main sources of college funding are finances from federal and local government budgets. Private higher educational establishments are entitled to receive financing from the state treasury once they have state accreditation.

      State Institutes have the right to make use of other sources of finance, in particular income:

      • from the provision of additional educational services (preliminary courses, additional education courses, subject specialisation lessons) not included in the basic programmes of the approved government standard.
      • from the students' general education (paid courses) which concerns foreign students.
      • From business activities (property renting, buying and selling of goods, intermediary services etc.).

      Institutes and colleges are financed by their founders. For example, the Ministry of Health and Social Development funds medical learning establishments. The level of funding is determined according to federal and regional quotas (standards) determined by the expenses for each student at one or another educational establishment. The funding quotas each year are approved by federal law and accepted by the state budget for the following year. Quotas for private institutes cannot be smaller than for state educational establishments.

    • Forms of Institute Education

      There are several forms of higher education:

      • full-time (day-time)
      • part-time (evening and correspondence courses)
      • non-residence (students' independent study after which they sit all the necessary examinations).

      The Russian Federation Government has composed a list of specialisms for which any form of  learning other than full-time (day-time) is prohibited. Necessaryrequirements for the standards of acquired knowledge of graduates (for all forms of learning) constitute a single state educational standard.

      On average, the proportion of students in part-time (evening-class) study is a third ofthe overall number of students. The specific character of evening study is thatstudents undertake a part of their studies independently as is the case with part-time students who undergo an on-site-off-site form of study.

    • The Teaching Language

      The main teaching language in the Russian Federation is Russian. As the official language of the RF teaching of Russian language is compulsory for all educationalestablishments. The exception is pre-school educational establishments. The teachingof Russian language is regulated according to state educational standards.

      Russian citizens have the right to receive basic general education in their native language. The language (or languages) in which teaching is carried out is determinedby the founder and is set in the educational establishment's charter.

  • From the History of Russian Education

    • Leading Figures in Russian Education (1902-2011)

      Ministries of Education of the Russian Empire


      Count Petr Vasilevich Zavadovsky


      Finished the course at the Kiev Ecclesiastical Academy and had an excellent command of the Latin language. Invested much in the development of the Russian education system. Constantly supported transformations which, in his opinion, could serve to strengthen Russian statehood and education. Thanks to him, new secondary and higher educational establishments were set up including the main pedagogical institutes and universities in Kazan and other cities. In the times of Zavadovsky adecree was issued by the Tsar by which the rank of collegiate assessor (equivalent to major in the civil service) could only be reached by civil servants with a university education.


      Count Alexei Kirillovich Razumovsky 

      (1810 - 1816)

      Educated at the University of Strasbourg. Served as a trustee of the Moscow School District and the University of Moscow, under whom the first Slavic Literature Department was established. Thanks to him, the Moscow Society of History and Antiquities was formed, as well as the Kazan Society of Russian Literature Lovers and other organisations. Owing to his active participation and patronage, the famous Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum was opened.


      Prince Alexander Nikolayevich Golitsyn

      (1816 - 1824)

      President of the Russian Bible Society (1813 - 1824). He was actively involved in charitable activities, including the organisation of the “Prison Trustees’ Society”. With the intensified reaction in 1819, a new educational curriculum was distributed throughout Russia, virtually cancelling out previous liberal innovations. Social stratification within the educational system and corporal punishment was introduced in public schools. The censorship policy was tightened and the teaching staff at universities was replaced with more conservative candidates. Karamzin called the Ministry under Golitsyn “The Ministry of the Eclipse”. However, thanks to this prince, improvements to the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum Library ended.


      Admiral Alexander Semenovich Shishkov

      (1824 - 1828)

      Well-known statesman, Russian writer and scholar. From 1813 to 1841, he served as president of the Russian Academy. He graduated from the Naval Cadet Corps and later taught naval tactics there. He simultaneously held the position of minister and oversaw foreign faiths. He adhered to a conservative style of education. He did a lot for the development of the Russian language, striving to achieve purity. He opposed the reform of the Russian language undertaken by N.M. Karamzin. He eventually had to resign due to his advanced age and poor health.


      Prince Carl Andreyevich Liven

      (1828 - 1833)

      Graduated from the University of St. Petersburg. He participated in the revision of the statutes and programmes of all lower and higher secondary schools, promoted the adoption of a new charter for elementary and secondary schools, as well as a new charter for district schools and gymnasiums (grammar schools). Thanks to the statute of 1828, classicism in public schools was legalised and the study period was set at seven years. Primary education still did not exist at that time – lower city and county schools played this role. The transition from a county high school to a gymnasium (grammar school) was prohibited due to differences between social strata, since a gymnasium was a place of education only for the children of noble families and officials. In view of the dramatic growth in the amount of cadet corps and military schools, C.A. Liven introduced the General Directorate of Military Educational Institutions.


      Count Sergey Semenovich Uvarov

      (1833 - 1849)

      A skilled diplomat, who demonstrated serious interest in science, in particular history and philology, archaeology and ancient languages. In 1811-1821, he served as a Trustee of the St. Petersburg School District. Beginning in 1818, he was the President of the Academy of Sciences. Thanks to him, the Department of Oriental Languages was established and later on, a faculty at the University of St. Petersburg.

      One of the main merits of Uvarov is the establishment of a system of classical education in Russia. He was the first to publish his own reports on the Ministry’s management in the “Journal of the Ministry of National Education”, which also included official documents of the Ministry and articles focused on pedagogy and teaching materials. Uvarov served more than three decades as the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. At the same time, the principle of stratification within the educational system was adhered to.


      Prince Platon Alexandrovich Shirinsky-Shikhmatov

      (1849 - 1854)

      Academician of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, writer, Chairman of the Archaeological Commission, and participant in the Patriotic War of 1812. He began working with the Ministry in 1824 as an Office Director. He promoted conservative ideas and strengthened the supervision of universities. He forbade the acceptance of anybody to universities that were not from noble families. He abolished the teaching of philosophy as a source of free-thinking. On the other hand, he was a big supporter of science.


      Abraham Sergeyevich Norov

      (1854 - 1858)

      Scientist and orientalist, writer and owner of a unique library. When he was 17 years old, he volunteered to participate in the Battle of Borodino. When he served as the Minister, he showed himself to be a liberal leader. Under his leadership, universities were allowed to admit an unlimited number of students, as was the publication of scholarly books abroad, thereby bypassing censorship. According to his decision, people who held masters’ degrees were regularly sent on business trips abroad. He defended the interests of the press, run by the Ministry.


      Evgraf Petrovich Kovalevsky

      (1859 - 1861)

      Chairman of the Moscow Censorship Committee and, as of 1856, the Curator of the Moscow School District. He was notable for his liberal views. He was a scientist and geologist, a prominent member of the Russian mining industry and served as a Major-General. He received permission from Tsar Alexander II to undertake the fundamental reform of the Ministry of Education. He raised the issue of universal primary education and opened the first Sunday schools in the country. By his orders, courses at universities were established for the purpose of training secondary school teachers. It was namely during his term that the literary fund was established.


      Count Evfimiy Vasilievich Putyatin


      An Admiral and renowned explorer. He served as the Minister for only five months. He was the author of the “Project for transforming maritime training institutions with the establishment of a new school”. He was known as the person who introduced “matricula” – the so-called first test books for students. His leadership saw the adoption of rules to abolish co-operative student learning and student libraries, and the introduction of mandatory attendance of lectures and payment of tuition fees. Most of his innovations were not welcomed by students and led to unrest in universities.


      Alexander Vasilievich Golovnin 

      (1861 - 1866)

      Attached to the court of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich, he was his closest aide. He resolutely began to introduce reforms in the sphere of Russian education, which proved to be successful. He supported liberal ideas and printing activities under his patronage. The “Charter of the gymnasium” was adopted under him, allowing for the education of children of all social strata and creeds. Here are a number of other achievements: the history of universal literature was recognised as a science; the position of professors was significantly strengthened; the level of financial lending by the state at all levels of education was increased. At the same time, a teachers' seminary for training rural teachers was established. The supervision and censorship of the Ministry of Education was subsequently transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.


      Count Dmitry Andreyevich Tolstoy

      (1866 - 1880)

      President of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and the Attorney-General (Procurator) of the Holy Synod. He was a historian and conservator, who carried out the “classical reform” by dividing all secondary schools into two categories: a “classical gymnasium” and a “non-classical secondary school”. The latter type of institution did not allow their graduates to enter university. Children from the nobility attended both secondary schools and universities. Children from the middle class attended district schools (4-5 years of education) and children from the peasant and lower classes attended public schools (1-2 years of education). In 1872, the first women's university in Russia was opened – the Bestuzhev Higher School.


      Andrey Alexandrovich Saburov

      (1880 - 1881)

      Graduated from the Imperial Alexandrovsk Lyceum. In 1857, he was appointed to the public service in the office of the Committee of Ministers with the rank of titular counsellor. In 1858, he was transferred to the Ministry of Justice. In 1875, he was appointed as a Trustee of the Dorpat School District. Under his tutelage, the number of German and Russian schools grew and the level of enrolment in lower and middle schools increased. From April 1880 to March 1881, he served as the Minister of Education. He advocated for the establishment of close links between the various institutions within the Ministry, as well as between the family and the school.


      Baron Alexander Pavlovich Nikolai

      (1881 - 1882)

      A graduate of the Imperial Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. He served under the Governor of the Caucasus, Prince M.S. Vorontsov and proved his capabilities well during an expedition to Dargo and Dagestan, and the capture of the fortified village of Salta. His contemporaries regarded him as a sincere and honest advocate of education. Under his authority, the state officially permitted the introduction of so-called school education (public schools of the lowest type). He opposed their submission to ecclesiastical institutions. In 1881, with his support, the Astronomical Observatory was opened at the University of St. Petersburg.


      Count Ivan Davidovich Delianov

      (1882 - 1897)

      Trustee of the St. Petersburg School District and Director of the Imperial Public Library. He issued a circular on “the cooks' children”, which introduced a ban on educating children from the ‘lower classes’ at secondary school. Under I.D. Delianov’s administration, a new reactionary charter was presented (1884). In accordance with this, students were subject to increased police surveillance. A school form was introduced and tuition fees were doubled. At the same time, he strengthened the position of the classical disciplines was strengthened, while this charter effectively strengthened the position of the classical disciplines. Delianov shut down higher education for women and the total number of students in secondary schools declined.


      Nikolai Pavlovich Bogolepov

      (1897 - 1901)

      A Professor of Roman law and Rector of the University of Moscow. According to the feedback received from colleagues, he had a brilliant pedagogical talent. To distract students from revolutionary ideas created, he established literary circles, choirs and orchestras under the supervision of professors. With his permission, students who participated in protest demonstrations could be enlisted as soldiers, which was unthinkable before his term as all university students were previously exempted from military service. He was directly involved in the closure of the Moscow Law Society, of which he himself held membership. Since 1899 within the Ministry, the Ministry a committee for reforming schools operated under his direction. Later on, Bogolepov was mortally wounded by a student who had previously been suspended.


      Petr Semenovich Vannovsky

      (1901 - 1902)

      The Minister of War under Tsar Alexander III and the Minister of Education under Nikolai II. He participated in the Russian-Turkish wars. He was appointed as Bogolepov’s successor following his murder. He tried to mitigate the reactionary regime that had been introduced in schools, exempt students who were enlisted as soldiers, and introduced additional liberal measures. He also worked to expand the powers of student governments. He only introduced one measure at the secondary school level – he abolished the mandatory of the Greek language in gymnasiums (grammar schools) and made it optional for new students at the university.


      Grigory Eduardovich Zenger

      (1902 - 1904)

      Statesman, scholar and a Doctor of Roman literature. He graduated from the University of St. Petersburg. In 1897 – 1899, he served as the Rector of the University of Warsaw. He was notable for his liberalism and for the fact that he intended to reform secondary and higher education system. He was a supporter of the classical system of education and succeeded in focusing on the physical development of students and increased funding for building large libraries and museums.


      Vladimir Gavrilovich Glazov

      (1904 - 1905)

      Graduated from the Institute of Land Surveying, the Alexandrovsk Military School, the General Staff Academy and the Archaeological Institute. He participated in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78. He was named as the head the Congress of School District Trustees, convened in 1904 to discuss the need of secondary schools and institutes of higher education. He initiated the preparation of major reforms, including the development of a new university statute and regulations concerning public schools. Due to the beginning of the revolution and a change of government, he was unable to realise educational reforms in reality.


      Sergey Mikhailovich Lukyanov


      He was temporarily responsible for the Ministry. He was considered a great expert in the field of pathological physiology, as a medical doctor, who was engaged in teaching activities. After graduating from the Medical-Surgical Academy and defending his doctoral dissertation, he undertook his professional training in Western Europe, after which he became a Professor at the University of Warsaw. In 1894 – 1902, he served as the Director of the Imperial Institute of Experimental Medicine in St. Petersburg. His deep theoretical understanding of the latest achievements in medical science led him to have a serious passion for the philosophical disciplines.


      Count Ivan Ivanovich Tolstoy

      (1905 - 1906)

      Graduated from the Law Faculty at the University of St. Petersburg. He was the Vice-President of the Imperial Academy of Arts and was fond of archaeology and numismatics. He sought to modify the multi-level education in Russia by transforming it. In his capacity as Minister, he was famous for introducing innovative reforms. He felt that issues pertaining to education were priorities for Russia. He developed a new draft statute for the university, as well as a democratic plan for providing universal education. He had a preference for humanities education and was a forceful advocate of a co-ed school education for boys and girls. He also proclaimed the idea of organising national schools. He founded many schools under the patronage of the Academy of Fine Arts.


      Baron Petr Mikhailovich Kaufman

      (1906 - 1908)

      He graduated with honours from the Alexandrovsk Lyceum. Under his administration, a draft law for the introduction of universal primary education was developed and submitted to the State Duma. Other notable changes that were made in the sphere of education under his leadership are as follows: increased funding for public education, guardianship was established in public schools, the enrolment of girls in urban schools together with boys was permitted, and a draft law on improving the pensions of teachers serving in state schools was developed and submitted to the Council of Ministers.


      Alexander Nikolayevich Schwartz

      (1908 - 1910)

      Taught Greek literature at the University of Moscow. He was notable for his conservative views and lack of reform-oriented decisions in the field of education. Under his administration, many privileges and exemptions, introduced by previous ministers of education, were abolished. He forbade women from being admitted to receive higher education. As noted by his contemporaries, A.N. Schwartz was a supporter of school pluralism. He supported the theory of a “unified school”, in which all students were supposed to learn according to the same programme.


      Lev Aristidovich Kasso 

      (1910 – 1914) 

      Kasso was trained in the law abroad. He was considered an extremely conservative minister who tried to undo the liberal concessions made by his predecessors. He viewed everything associated with revolutionary ideas very badly, expelling progressive professors and students from the universities. More than a third of the teaching faculty left Moscow University because of him. He categorically refused to open universities in Vilna and Minsk. He issued detailed curricula (for secondary educational institutions), severely limited teachers' initiative, and reinforced external oversight. 


      Count Pavel Nikolaevich Ignatiev 

      (1915 – 1916)

      Ignatiev had a reputation as an active reformer, having recognised in his work pedagogical practices from around the world. Consequently, he advanced solutions directed at continuing innovations in education. Interestingly, the blueprint of his reforms was used throughout the 20th century. He was attentive to the coming together of school and family, to shifting the emphasis from the educator to the education, and also to the formation of active and creative personalities. He spoke out against contempt for the Russian language and did not welcome thoughtless adoptions from foreign education practices. He stressed the development of civic and patriotic sentiments. He sought promote the development of a vocational training system.


      Nikolai Konstantinovich Kulchitsky 

      (1916 – 1917)

      Kulchitsky was known around the scientific world as a histologist, a professor, and a doctor of medicine. He graduated from the medical school at Kharkov University. He worked in the department of histology and embryology at Kharkov University for about 30 years. From 1912, he was the administrator of the Kazan school district, and in 1914, administrator of the Petrograd school district.  As Minister of Education, he shelved the progressive initiatives of his predecessors. In 1918, Kulchitsky was arrested by the Bolsheviks, but was set free before long. In 1921, he emigrated and continued his scientific work at the University of London. He was an honorary member of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland and held an office in the National Order of the Legion of Honour.


      Alexander Apollonovich Manuylov 

      (from March 2 to July 4, 1917)

      Manuylov graduated from the legal department at Novorossiysk University, where he studied economics. He attended lectures at the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg. He was a professor, chancellor of Moscow University at the climax of the revolutionary events from 1905-1907, and editor for the "Russian Gazette". He was a member of the initial Provisional Government as the Minister of Education following the February Revolution against the Cadets. He actively participated in the establishment of the liberal opposition in Russia. After the February Revolution against the the Cadets, he became a member of the initial Provisional Government as the Minister of Education. He was appointed chairperson of the State Committee for the People's Education and was actively involved in the Provisional Government. Following the revolution, he emigrated. Later he returned and taught at Soviet universities.


      Sergei Fedorovich Oldenburg 

      (from July 24 to August 26, 1917) 

      Oldenburg was an orientalist, a professor at the University of Saint Petersburg, a director of the Asian Museum, a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a member of the State Council. In his post with the Ministry, he collaborated with the Committee for the People's Education and its authorised representatives. Due to a lack of time, not one of the legislative projects developed by the Committee was enacted by the Provisional Government.


      Sergei Sergeevich Salazkin

      (from September 25 to October 25, 1917) 

      Salazkin was a professor and a Russian biochemist. He was the Minister of Education in Kerensky's last cabinet. It was assume that with Salazkin's support a number of projects from the Committee for the People's Education would be realised in the near future. However, only one proposal regarding the transfer of the top primary schools to locally-governed bodies was implemented. On October 25, 1917, the Committee's work was discontinued. On the day of the coup, the Minister of the People's Education and other members of the Provisional Government located in the Winter Palace were arrested and confined to Petropavlovskaya Fortress. Some time later he was transferred to house arrest, which lasted for several months.

    • The People's Commissariat for Education (Narkompros)

      The October Revolution of 1917 led to a complete change in the government and the Ministry of Education's reform in the People's Commissariat for Education. 

      The Ministers of the People's Commissariat for Education 


      Anatoly Vasilievich Lunacharsky 

      (1917 – 1929) 

      Lunacharsky was the first Minister of the People's Commissariat for Education. He was born and raised in a musical family. He studied at the University of Zürich. He was impressively expert and thoroughly knowledgeable in literature. He was a teacher, lecturer, writer of political essays, a critic, and a playwright. He stood at the helm during the formation of the Soviet system of education, including higher education and vocational training. He was considered the Bolshevik's leading expert on cultural matters. He held his post for 12 years. 

      In 1918, special guidelines were developed for admittance to universities. In 1919, workers' courses were developed, which allowed working peasant youth to obtain a secondary education in the shortest period of time and to be admitted without exams to institutions of higher education. Lunacharsky actively involved in solving the country's most important challenge–the eradication of illiteracy. 

      In 1922 and with his support, the magazine "Education Herald" was founded. In 1929, he became chairperson of the Scientific Committee under the Central Executive Committee of the USSR. And in 1933, he became ambassador to Spain. "An intellectual among Bolsheviks, and a Bolshevik among intellectuals," so spoke the first Minister of the Commissariat of Education about himself.


      Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya

      Assistant Minister of the People's Commissariat for Education

      Krupskaya officially received the post of Assistant Minister of the People's Commissariat for Education in 1929 (the year of Lunacharsky's resignation), but, in reality, Lenin appointed her immediately following the October Revolution. Krupskaya was fascinated by literature and foreign languages. She enjoyed the scholastic work that she was involved in for many years on the People's Commissariat for Education. She personally taught for about 14 years. At first, she offered private lessons. After finishing grammar school, she was a private tutor at the Obolensky boarding house. Krupskaya also taught so-called Smolensky classes, in which working men and women were trained. This was were she created her own method, "Five Years of Work in Smolensky Evening Classes". 

      In the twenties, Krupskaya's held enormous prestige. She was chairperson of the scientific-pedagogical group of the State Scientific Council. She was editor for the magazine "On the Roads to a New School" and organised tens of pedagogical congresses, conferences, and meetings.


      Andrei Sergeevich Bubnov 

      (1929 – 1937) 

      As a member of the Central Committee's Organising Bureau, he managed the entire staff of the People's Commissariat for Education. This Stalin appointee had the commensurate additional clout in the People's Commissariat. He was involved with every aspect of the organisation of the educational system in the USSR. In 1930, the XVI Congress of the National Communist Party (Bolsheviks) resolved to introduce universal primary education. Under Bubnov, seven-year, general compulsory education began and reforms were made to the content of school educational programs. In 1933, Bubnov came out against the fanatical purging of the nation's library holdings and thoughtless destruction of old books. Only in the Moscow Oblast were more than 60,000 especially valuable books salvaged from the estates of former landowners and private collections. The resolution "On Library Science in the USSR" was adopted by the Central Executive Committee of the USSR (March 1934). Bubnov was arrested in 1937 in the "Affair of the People's Commissariat for Education", which levelled accusations at more than 2,500 scientists, educators, university professors, together with all of the Commissariat's leaders. He was executed by shooting in 1938.


      Petr Andreevich Tyurkin


      In 1926 P.A. Tyurkin was appointed Deputy Director of the Chief Directorate for Social Education of the People's Commissariat for Education. He had remarkable experience in editing work. In 1933 he became Director of the Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky) Mechanical Engineering Institute and after a while he occupied the post of Director of the Leningrad Industrial Institute (now the St. Petersburg State Technical University). In the war he reached the rank of Major General.  During the Siege of Leningrad he was Director of Political Affairs of the Leningrad front. For his achievements in providing Leningrad and the Leningrad front with a “life-line” he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.


      Vladimir Petrovich Potemkin


      People's Commissar for Education of the RSFSR. Up until the Revolution educated at the Historical-Philological Faculty of Moscow University. Until the advent of Soviet power, he was engaged in pedagogical and scholarly work. In 1918-1919 more than 180 congresses and collective meetings to educate workers in the new Soviet rule took place under his direct command. From 1922 he was engaged in diplomatic work and in 1937 became Deputy to USSR People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, V.M. Molotov. Soviet Ambassador to France 1934-1937. He produced a series of learned works dedicated to the history of international relations and pedagogical matters. In the post of People's Commissar for Education, he invested a lot of effort in the formation of the RSFSR Academy of Pedagogical Sciences and in 1943, he became its first President.

    • RSFSR Ministries for Education


      RSFSR Ministries for Education


      Aleksey Georgievich Kalashnikov


      First RSFSR Education Minister. Doctor of Physics and Mathematical Sciences, professor. Engaged in pedagogical work. Active member of the RSFSR APS (Academy of Pedagogical Sciences) (1947). For him, one of the main tasks of his ministerial post was to raise the standard of pedagogical education. In July 1947, on his initiative the All-Russian Meeting of the Chairmen of the Departments for Pedagogics, Psychology and Methods took place in Moscow. A.G. Kalashnikov took an active part in the creation of the Socialist Industrial-Labour Schools and new forms of training of pedagogical staff. Pioneer of publications, one of the editors and author of a series of articles in the first Soviet Pedagogical Encyclopaedia.



      Aleksandr Alekseevich Voznesensky


      Academic and successful economist. In 1939 became deacon and teacher in the country's first faculty of Political Economy. Rector of Leningrad University during the war and in the first post-war years (1941-1947). In charge of Leningrad and Saratov Universities during the evacuation. In his time as Rector, he opened four new faculties and 46 sub-faculties. In August of 1949 was arrested in connection with the “Leningrad Affair” along with all of his family. Shot in 1950. Rehabilitated after four years.



      Ivan Andreevich Kairov


      After the death of V.P. Potemkin in 1946, selected as President of RSFSR APS and occupied this post for around 20 years. Received a classical education up until the Revolution. Enjoyed great authority amongst academic circles for his love of learning. Active member of the USSR APS (1967), Hero of Socialist Labour (1963). During the first years of Soviet rule he engaged in the formation of a network of higher and secondary agricultural learning establishments. Author of a series of educational textbooks. In his work he presented the model for the creation of modern agricultural colleges which are still relevant to this day.



      Evgeny Ivanovich Afanasenko


      Reforms to the Soviet education system strove to increase the number of institutes and schools to cater to as much of the population as possible, which could not help but have a negative impact on the standard of education. During his leadership there was a move away from academic values. Teaching courses were reduced: subjects important to teaching disappeared – logic, psychology, pedagogics. Humanitarian sciences were consigned to secondary importance. It was precisely under Afanasevich that teaching staff became predominantly female and teachers' salaries were substantially cut.



      Aleksandr Ivanovich Danilov


      Finished Tambov Pedagogical Institute. Historian, talented teacher, professor. After the Second World War he lectured students in Tomsk University. Active member of USSR APS. In 1967 A. I.  Danilov becomes RSFSR Minister for Education. He succeed in achieving impressive results in his 13 years in the post of Director of Ministry for Education. Under him was brought about the move towards general secondary education with the simultaneous serious renewal of the educational process. A landmark in the educational field was the aim to create the harmonious individual.

      The minister's other services were: strengthening of schools' material technical bases, improvements to students' work and poly-technical training, and development of schools' self-government through Komsomols and Pioneer organisations. Also, during A.I. Danilov's tenure of his ministerial post, students' training in artistic and physical disciplines was bolstered.



      Georgy Petrovich Veselov


      In 1990 introduced 14 differentiated (variational) school and study plans used by teaching establishments to define themselves and to experience the trend for democracy in Russian education. Actively supported school-complexes (now UVK's: Educational Complexes). G.P. Veselov considered the system for improving teachers' qualifications to be of no little importance and, in general, gave a lot of attention to pedagogical education. Stood up for aesthetic development of school children having given the green light to the innovative ideas of Kabalevsky and Nemsky.



      Eduard Dmitrievich Dneprov


      Academic and first Education Minister of the new Russia. Being the director of the INEC School, formulated and prepared a programme for school transformations. In the book “Contemporary School Reform in Russia” he examined a series of the most notable Russian reforms in the field of education. Carried out an in-depth analysis of the change in, and history of, pedagogy. In the post of minister he showed himself to be a specialist of the highest order and a demanding director. Seriously investigated such areas as education policy, the social-education movement and the establishment and development of the education system in Russia.



      Evgeny Viktorovich Tkachenko


      RF Education Minister in V.S. Chernomyrdin's government. Until his top post in the education ministry, he was Rector of one of Ekaterinburg's institutes. Took an active part in aligning ministerial links with Europe's authoritative educational organisations. In his opinion, the Russian education system has many things in common with European school education. The necessity of educational reform in Russia and close cooperation with foreign partners based on the potential foreign recognition of Russian certificates and degrees.



      Vladimir Georgievich Kinelev


      Academic of the Russian Academy of Education, active member of the International Engineering Academy. Doctor of Technical Science, professor. From 1993 Chairman of the RF State Committee for Higher Education. In 1996 Deputy Chairman of RF Government (dealt with issues of learning and educational activity). From August 1996 until February 1998 occupied the position of RF Minister of General and Vocational Education. Under him began the experiment in distance learning. From January 1997 member of Governmental Scientific-Technical Commission and RF Commission for UNESCO affairs. Cooperated with many foreign organisations in the area of education and culture. State Prize Laureate in the area of Science and Technology.


      Aleksandr Nikolaevich Tikhonov


      Occupied the post of Deputy Education minister 1990-1998, appointed Education Minister from February until March 1998, doctor of Technical Science,  State Prize Laureate of USSR and Russia, Academic of RF Academy of Natural Sciences, RF Academic of Engineering Sciences, International Academic of Technological Sciences. Launched the development of the national research and education internet networks. Considered one of the priority tasks to be the development of distance learning. A.N. Tikhonov became one of the organisers of of the federal target programme “Integration of Basic Science and High Schools”. In March 1998 became director of the Scientific Research Institute for Information Technology and Telecommunications.

      Vladimir Mikhailovich Filippov

      (1998 - 2004)

      He was a Doctor of Physical-Mathematical Sciences, professor and Academician of the Academy of Natural Sciences of the Russian Federation. He was appointed to the position of Minister of Education of the Russian Federation by a Presidential Decree dated 30 September 1998. The decision to establish a Boards of Trustees was adopted and a federal program for educational development was approved under V.M.Filippov. He participated in the development of a national educational policy and the development of a draft bill for rights and guarantees to education. He successfully united the efforts of educational reformers, public figures and experts in the field of pedagogy at all levels of education - from preschool to higher education and graduate studies. As a result, reforms have been implemented, funding for educational programs has increased, and the implementation of computer technologies in rural schools has been initiated. 


      Andrey Aleksandrovich Fursenko

      (from 2004 - present)

      During the period of 1971 – 1991, he held the positions: Trainee Researcher, Junior Researcher, Laboratory Head, Deputy Director for Scientific Research,Head Researcher at the Physical-Technical Institute named after Ioffe of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (Leningrad). During the period of 1991 – 1993, he became vice-president of JSC "Center for Advanced Technology and Development" in St. Petersburg. From 1994 to 2001, he was the General Director of the Regional Foundation for Scientific and Technological Development of St. Petersburg (RFNTR). Since 2000, he has served as Chairman of the Scientific Board of the Foundation "Center for Strategic Research North-West." From November 2001 to June 2002, he was the Deputy Minister of Industry, Science and Technology of the Russian Federation. From June 2002 to December 2003, he was the First Deputy Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. From December 2003 to February 2004 he was Acting Minister for Industry, Science and Technology of the Russian Federation. On March 9, 2004, he was appointed Minister of Education and Science by a Presidential Decree. In May 2004, after the newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin took office, he was appointed Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. During his tenure as head of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, Andrei Fursenko consistently pursued a policy of multi-phase reforms aimed at modernizing Russian education and raising its standards. 


      Over the past five decades of the 20th century, several other prominent government officials influenced the development of modern Russian education, including the Ministers of Higher Education of the USSR 


      Sergey Vasilevich Kaftanov

      He was the Minister of Higher Education of the USSR (1946 - 1951). In 1941, he was appointed to the position of Commissioner (scientific advisor) of the State Defense Committee for matters involving the coordination and strengthening of research work. He personally informed Stalin about the results of work in the field of nuclear research. Together with the famous Soviet scientist P.L. Kapitsa, he made a tremendous contribution to the organization of the Higher School of Physics and Technology (initially it was the Physics-Technological Department of Moscow State University, and from 1951 – Phys-Tech). Also, in 1948, he ordered the “improvement” of the Departments of Biology with “cadres of biologist-Michurinists.” By the same order, a series of valuable books on genetics and breeding were removed from libraries, and there was a wave of replacements of university presidents across the country. In 1953, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Culture of the USSR. 


      Vsevolod Nikolaevich Stoletov

      He was the Minister of Higher Education of the USSR (1951 - 1953). During his tenure as Deputy Director of the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, V.N. Stoletov played a negative role in 1948 in the organization and work of the famous session of VASKhNIL [All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Soviet Union]. He was on the side of the "Lysenkoists" and was one of the authors of the report of the "great academician." As a result, he replaced the prominent scientist V.S. Nemchinov as the head of the Moscow Agricultural Academy named after Timiryazev. In the 1950's, he was the Head of Genetics in the Biology Department of Moscow State University. In 1950, he became Minister of Agriculture of the USSR. As Minister of Education (1951 - 1953), he was engaged in the selection of personnel for newly established universities. He was the author of works about issues in higher and secondary special education, and he was involved in the development of the educational system in the USSR. In the years 1959 -1972, he was the Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the RSFSR.


       Vyacheslav Petrovich Elyutin

      He was the Minister of Higher Education of the USSR (1954 - 1986). He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel, was director of this university between 1945 - 1951, and was a scientist-metallurgist. From 1951, he was the first Deputy Minister, from 1954 he was the Minister of Higher Education of the USSR, and from 1959 he was the Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the USSR and Chairman of the State Commission for Academic Degrees and Titles.


      In the 1950’s, a series of unsuccessful reforms were attempted in higher education. In 1958, a provision was adopted to increase enrollment of "producers" in higher education - that is, individuals who have worked in the area of production for no less than 2 years. Their share of admission into institutions of higher education should consist of 80%. This provision was in force during Khrushchev's entire term of office. This provision was abolished only in 1965. V.P. Elyutin wrote a number of theoretical studies about higher education. The Minister paid great attention to the development and equipping of educational institutions in the country. 


      Ivan Filippovich Obratsov

      He was the Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the RSFSR (1972 - 1991). He was an Academician and Soviet scientist in the field of structural mechanics and stress-theory for aircraft. After graduating from MAI in 1944, he worked there as an instructor. During the period of 1958 – 1972, he was the Deputy Director for Research and President of MAI. He was the Chairman of the board of "Knowledge" of the RSFSR (from 1968). He was the Director of the Institute of Applied Mechanics of the Russia Academy of Sciences. He was a member of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR during the 7th and 8th convocations, and he was awarded the Order of Lenin. 


      Gennady Alekseevich Yagodin

      In 1985, he became Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the USSR, and from 1988 he served as Chairman of the State Board of Education of the USSR. He proved himself as a major organizer in the areas of science and education. He possessed great authority as a scientist in the fields of chemistry and chemical technology. He is often referred to as an outstanding educational reformer in education of that time. As a result of his efforts, VNIK [Interim Scientific Research Collective] "School" was created. Variable forms of education arose, new programs appeared, and gymnasiums, lyceums and colleges were created. 


      Mikhail Alekseevich Prokofiev

      He was Minister of Education of the USSR (1966 - 1984). He was a scientist and an organic chemist. He was a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences and an Academician of the Academy of Education and Sciences of the USSR. He was one of the main authors of the ideological basis of pedagogy in the country.


      He was a graduate of the Chemistry Department of Moscow State University (1935). During the period of1937-1940, he was a postgraduate student at the Chemistry Research Institute of Moscow State University, and he defended his thesis in 1940 on the "Synthesis of alpha-amino-beta-hydroxy acids and their dehydration." From December 1940 to October 1941, he was the Deputy Director of the Chemistry Research Institute of Moscow State University. In October 1941, volunteered for the armed services and was sent to war, where he served in the Navy as Chief of Office of the People's Commissariat.


      From 1951 to 1954, he worked as the Chief of the Main Office for Universities in the Ministry of Education and Culture of the USSR. In 1954, he was Deputy Minister of Higher Education of the USSR, and in 1959 he became the first Deputy Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the USSR. He was known as one of the initiators of differential teaching methods. He was awarded numerous medals.


  • The first Russian printing house

    • Prerequisites

      By the mid-sixteenth century in Rus, the demand for books, which were very expensive at that time, had significantly increased. Despite the fact that the production of books, which were handwritten at that time, reached an unprecedented level, the book deficit still continued to increase. The church awarded great importance to books and the church was the main consumer of such publications. Only the manufacturer of books printed mechanically would ensure that they were free of the many mistakes that could lead to different interpretations of church books and, therefore, could inevitably trigger the development of heresy.

    • The political rise of Moscow

      The beginning of typography in Rus contributed to the rapid political rise of Moscow, both in the political field and in the cultural sphere. In the middle of the XVI century, these were the best years under the reign of Ivan the Terrible, who managed to unite the main Russian territory in a single state and also won Kazan and Astrakhan. There were vast lands inhabited by non-Orthodox peoples that were then under the authority of Moscow Rus. With increasing international influence and expanding borders, Rus asserted itself as a state, centered between Europe and the Orient. The consolidation of the state’s authority throughout the vast territory took place with the help of the church. One well-known example of this was when, with the formation of a new diocese in Kazan, all Russian monasteries participated in the effort to gather Books of the Apostles (Epistles) and the New Testament for it, about which a royal decree was issued.

      Another important reason that the printing trade was introduced in Russia was the need to raise the country’s prestige during the Livonian War and the ideological confrontation between Calvinist publications that were released in the Ukrainian and Belorussian languages.

      It was necessary to unite the entire population of Moscow Rus and to establish uniform standards in terms of legislation, church life, family ties and domestic life. An important event took place at the Stoglav Great Council of Russian Bishops in 1551, where the document “Stoglav” (“The Book of 100 Chapters”) was adopted. This document included all approved decisions with respect to matters of church and state affairs. It is specifically the Stoglav that reflected the first measures in ensuring oversight of scribes/book copyists. Instruction was given to monitor their work in order to avoid ambiguity and to rewrite the liturgical books with only a “good translation”.

      Replicating books with identical text in large print runs could only be possible using printing technology for manufacturing books. Ivan the Terrible began thinking about opening a Moscow print shop in order to rectify the situation regarding the production of books in both Italy and other European countries, because by that time, the printing press was already operating in Europe for almost 100 years.

      It should be noted that the Russian tsar was a very well-read person and that his library contained more than 800 books in various languages. According to some sources, this collection of books was the largest in Europe at that point in time. In addition, the ruler of Rus was known as a gifted orator and a skillful writer, which also contributed to the bringing Moscow into the era of the book printing/publishing.

    • The Moscow Printing House

      Metropolitan Macarius, who in 1547 crowned Ioann IV Vasilyevich as tsar, first blessed the beginning of book printing/typography. In 1563, a royal decree was issued, commanding that a special building (a printing house) be built for printing books. This house was called Printing House and became the first official Russian typography.

      When they began to look for masters who were knowledgeable with respect to the printing business, a response came from Denmark’s King Christian, who sent a well-learned scribe who was well versed in this difficult trade. As conceived by the king, the scribe was able to translate the Bible in accordance with Lutheran canons and publish it for mass circulation. The price for this service would be that Rus officially adopted Lutheranism. This proposal was clearly rejected.

    • First printed books in Russia

      “Deeds and epistles of the Apostles” (or “Apostle” for short) was the first officially printed book in Moscovia, on March 1, 1564. This date was the birth of Russian book printing which later played a great role in the development of national identity. 

      It took about a year to design and print the first book. Printers had to found types, adjust lithographic printer and select necessary ornaments. All this was an extremely difficult task at those times. The result of this painstaking work was a volume of 267 sheets printed in about 1 thousand copies.

      “Apostol” was reprinted on heavy Dutch paper. The type arrangement and text capture were done according to Russian traditional hand-writing and large initial capitals were decorated with sophisticated monograms. Art miniatures before new chapters were engraved in wood. The book opening is adorned by an illustration with Evangelist Lucas. It is common knowledge that “Apostle” later became a reference for all Russian book printing. 

      The second book that came out of the Moscow Print Yard was “Prayer-book” (1565), published in two editions. It was a prayer manual and a grammar textbook. Its edition format was 1/8 of printer’s sheet. Pages were decorated by florid headpieces with entwined leaves and flowers. The type font was the same one as in “Apostle”, but the design was a bit simplified.

    • Printing equipment

      Unfortunately, the reliable information about the first printing press was not kept, except for the fact that it was made by Italian models. By the way, the entire printing terminology until the middle of the XIX century was fully borrowed from the Italians. 

      There are some examples: 

      - tiratore (teredorschi) - a print worker;

      - battitore (batyrschik) – a printer or feeder, which applies ink onto typographic fonts or designs;

      - piano (pian or pyam) - upper board of printing press;

      - margine (marzan) - bar inserted into printing form, where the field should remain in the book;

      - punzone (punso) - steel bar with a letter engraved at the end for punching of matrices.

      Among the typographical terms of that time only one German word is found - drukarnya (printing shop). It has been brought to Russia from the south-west printing shops. 

      In the historical archives, there is still retained a reference to the description of Fedorov’s printing press. That was an inventory made after the death of first pressman: "printing press and all the accessories of wood, ... great cast brass screw with a nut and a plate, which pressed font characters, and the frame in which the font characters are placed." 

      To print pictures and ornaments special masters engraved wooden boards, usually made of pear wood. The very picture for carving was usually made by colour bearers (artists, who painted colorful books). Manufacturing of a wooden image in mirror reflexion was called "xylography carving," and the time for manufacturing of one engraved plate was about two or three months. 

      Initially, a printing press was operated by two people – batyrschik (a feeder) and teredorschik (a print worker). It is believed that first Russian masters - Fedorov and Mstislavets – were shifting each other. 

      Black ink for printing was usually made at the very printing shop from the soot, expensive red paint - from cinnabar (made from the cognominal mercury mineral), which they bought from foreign merchants or abroad. Two-color printing has been caused some difficulties, since it was necessary to use two different printing plates. Immediately prior to the printing the paper was moistened with a damp cloth in order to get paper sheet better impregnated with the paint. For sewing the book together they usually used hempen stitching, and boards, covered with leather or cloth, as binding cases (covers). At that, full binding was often decorated with special stamping. The finishing strokes were fasteners that have been attached to the corner pieces. At the dawn of printing, it was entirely manual labor, which involved many specialists. 

    • Anonymous printing house

      Books in Russia were published long before Fedorov. During the period of 153-1562 7 books were printed that even survived till present time. Unfortunately they had neither the name of printers, nor the issue date. Bibliologists who studied those books came to a conclusion that they were printed in Moscow which is proved by several indirect features such as language, spelling, design, and font layout. This secret printing house was called Anonymous printing house.

      These are the books that were printed there:

      -Tetraevangelion, thin typed (1553-1554);

      -Triodion of the Lent (1555-1556);

      -Coloured Triodion (1556-1557);

      -Tetraevangelion, medium typed (1558-1559);

      -Book of Psalms, medium typed (1559-1560);

      -Tetraevangelion, wide typed (1563-1564);

      -Book of Psalms, wide typed (1564-1565).

      Those books were printed in two colors that were applied to the block simultaneously thus the impression was made in one step.

    • After Ivan Fedorov

      In 1566 Fedorov and Mstislavets left Moscow for Latvia. According to one of the versions, printers were persecuted because their work was allegedly not pleasing to God. Printing books, compared to writing them manually, was sometimes claimed as blasphemy. However, this version is not proved. Nevertheless it is known that printers moved at their own will and with the tsar’s consent, as otherwise they would not be allowed to take a printing machine with them.

      After Fedorov and Mstislavets left, printing in Moscow did not stop. In 1568 Moscow Printing house printed the Book of Psalms. This book was made by Nikofor Tarasiev and Nevezha Timofeev. Those printers used Fedorov’s fonts, however, the book differed from two first printed books by its design and distinguished miniatures. Tarasiev and Timofeev could have learned printing from Ivan Fedorov. By the second half of XVI – beginning of XVII printing in Moscow was a well established craft. It shall be noted that Nevezha Timofeev was the founder of famous dynasty of printers.

    • Printing difficulties

      Despite the growing success of printing in Moscow, the times changed for a 9 year long interval related to hard times and strengthening of oprichnina. The church that used to support book printing ceased to be the tsar’s advisor after the death of metropolitan Makariy. It could also be explained by the fact that in 1571 Moscow suffered significant damage during the invasion of the Crimea khan Devlet-Girey. The printing house was completely destroyed.

      In a while Ivan IV organized a small printing house in his country residence, Alexandrovskaya sloboda, in 113 kilometers from Moscow. In the middle of XVI century it was occupied with creation of “Letopisny svod” (Chronicles), one of the famous manuscripts. The first and the only book printed in Alexandrovskaya printing house was the Book of Psalms (dated 1577). This was again made by Nevezha Timofeev. Starting from 1577 book printing in Russia faced unfavorable conditions again. This work was resumed only during the reign of Boris Godunov.

    • Printing expansion

      During the reign of Boris Godunov and Vasiliy Shuisky new printing houses were built. However, it still took not less than a month to print one book. According to some data, in 1592 Moscow already had 2 printing machines. This version can be proved by the fact that in 1593 two new books were issued at one the same time. Those were Octoechos and colored Triodion. Same repeated in 1607, as Canon and Hagiography were printed. Besides the printing house estimate in 1612 was calculated for two printing machines.

      The Russian book printing craft of the XVI century was made famous by six book printers. It is necessary to name Marusha Nefediev and Vasyuk Nikiforov besides the four ones already mentioned. By the way, it is quite possible that Nefediev participated in the activities of the Anonymous typography. The most important result of the work of masters in the XVI century was the establishment of the big typographical center of European type under Moscow Printing Court which was headed by Master Andronik Timofeev Nevezha (Churl) up to 1602. 

      In contrast to European typographies existing mostly due to funds and investments of private persons, the book printing in Moscow was a state affair. All publications were printed in accordance with the approved state schedule that ruled out the free output of books. 

      During the XVII century the Printing Court more than once came to ruin and was on fire. However, the XVII century became the real breakthrough for the domestic book industry as during this period of time the Printing Court published more books than all European typographies all put together. There began to appear specialized workshops for separate stages of book production – drawing and carving, casting, bookbinder’s, joiner’s, blacksmith shops etc. In 1620, owing to overall reconstruction, the Moscow Printing Court became a spacious stone building. Moreover, masters were lodged in a special Printing settlement near Sretenskie Vorota and for their work they received money and food. Approximately by the middle of the XVII century the typography had already got 14 printing presses. Printing of gravures appeared together with book printing but by the second part of the XVII century xylography (woodcutting) was gradually changed into metal engraving.   

    • The art of engraving

      Unfortunately we do not have the names of the engravers who cut the boards for the first two editions produced by the Moscow Print House. One famous engraver from the XVII century was a printer - Andronik Timofeev Nevezha. Two of his works are particularly striking - David in the Book of Psalms (1577), printed with the Aleksandrov region typography, and Luke the Evangelist in the 'Book of the Apostles', from 1597.

      Woodblock printing was used widely in Rus for almost a century and a half as a way of printing images onto paper. This was known as the letterpress method of printing. There were initial problems for engravers working with metal, which were only overcome later. For example, with images engraved into metal, it was more difficult to extract the ink from the depressions of the image than it was when using wood. It was necessary to press the paper to the metal surface much more strongly. To do this the metal board with the paper placed on top was pressed between two rollers, turned by a handle. This became known as intaglio. 

      The Russian masters were famous for their metal engraving long before the invention of the book press in Europe. Goblets, trays, crosses and jewellery were decorated with fine engraving, and engraved copper and silver sheets were used to cover church books. The first metal engraver for book printing in Rus was the master Feodosii Izograf, who saw German copper engraving in the second half of the 15th century and realised that he could do equally well. From the 1480s onwards separate sheets, engraved by famous European metal engravers, began to arrive in Moscow. Whilst carrying out many experiments in his studio, Izograf put ink on the engraving and placed a sheet of paper onto it.  He later engraved and printed several headpieces and ornamental flowers, and stuck them onto the pages of handwritten books. On a 16th century manuscript of the Four Gospels he left his signature: 'Feodosii Izograf'.

      In 1649 in Moscow the first book with illustrations produced using the intaglio method was released, The edition was called 'The learning and cunning of the military construction of warriors'.  It contained 25 engraved figures. The engravings were carried out on Russian designs in Holland, where they were also printed, before being sent to Moscow. Intaglio arrived in Rus 20 years later, in about 1665-1668. These dates are found under the engravings of the great artist Simon Ushakov. 

    • Looking at typography

      Typography was slowly perfected, and the quality of book printing slowly increased. In 1664 an original instruction manual on work discipline called ‘Punishment reminder' was released.  This booklet was intended for typesetters, who by that point had already replaced the masters in managing the process of book preparation. For a high print quality strict discipline and careful adherence to the technological processes was required. The typesetters were required to ensure that "no riots or shameful, foul language occurred, nor reproach, nor idle talk, and that there should under no circumstances be any fights on the platform whilst on state business, nor should any outsiders or drunks be brought in during the day or evening, and no one should stay the night in the House apart from the regular craftsmen". 

      The Print House traditionally belonged to the Tsar's treasury, with the preparation of books known as 'state business'. From 1653 by Tsarist decree the Print House was passed to the full control of the Patriarch, so that every book published received approval from the church. This placed a particular responsibility on the shoulders of the publishers. 

    • From the Press to the Shop

      Before setting about work on the issuing of a new book, in the premises where the new book was to be printed, the corresponding decree by the Tsar was pored over. After which the priest set about reading a prayer. Then the money for the costs of producing the book was distributed to the craftsmen.

      A copy each of the new book in the best binding was presented to the Tsar and the Patriarch. The price of the publication was set only with the sovereign's approval. Up until the 1640's the price of a book was equivalent to the cost of producing it as the aim of distributing it was the grace of God and not profit. The print run was circulated using a list in the towns, eparchies, monasteries and bookshops. Later the price began, as a rule, to be set at twice the cost of producing it.

      The trade in books went on in the Print Yard itself as well as in the shops. The first bookshop opened on the Spassky Bridge. Up until the 18th century numerous bookshops literally filled the whole area around there, and a book market formed, existing until 1812.

  • From the History of Book Publishing in Russia

    • The Book Journey of Ivan Fyodorov

      Books of Russian printing pioneer Ivan Fyodorov became a brilliant example for the next generations of book printers. There were several reasons for that. But the main one is that at the beginning the master intended not to simply print a lot of copies, but to make a true piece of book art.
      Numerous details that make the book truly unique were the main characteristics of the first officially book published in 1564 by Ivan Fyodorov and Petr Mstislavets. That was the book The Books of the Apostles (now, it is mostly called simply the Apostle). Among the most astonishing details were ornaments of the Russian painter of the beginning of 16th century, Theodosius the Isograph. Thanks to this, the so called old printing style got a foothold in book design. As for the font, the master held to a semi-uncial right incline which made the text balanced and easy to read. Also, the remarkable fact was that the text of the Apostle was provided with headlines and required references. The art print of the St. Luke Apostle Book deserves the highest praise. In spite of all the outward simplicity, the images create a great impression on the audience. At the beginning of every chapter there are colorful elements of design that make the book even more valuable. To do justice, it is important to notice mistakes in the pages numeration, which were probably caused by difficulties of the first steps of mastering the printing process in Russia.
      The Book of Hours, the second book of Russian printing pioneers, was published in 1565 (it was later reprinted). It was a pocket book, a collection of prayers. The book was used both at church and at school. The font was the same as in the Apostle, but new headpieces made in Venetian style appeared.
      According to certain documental records, after Fyodorov and Mstislavets left Moscow in 1566, they came to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and stayed at the hetman Hrehory Chodkiewicz’s estate. Master started printing again. They founded a new printing house at the place called Zabludovo. They managed to bring with them several fonts and matrices from Moscow.
      In 1569, the Instructive Gospel (also known as Zabludovskoye). This was the last book Fyodorov and Mstislavets published together. Next year Petr Mstislavets moved to Vilno where he founded his own printing house, and Ivan Fyodorov kept working at the same place and published the Book of Psalms and the Horologion (1570).
      In the early 1570’s, Chodkiewicz takes a decision to close the printing house, but at the same time makes a present to the book printer, granting him a village and suggesting to engage in farming. But Fyodorov answers: ‘It is not for me to waste my life with a plow in my hands, sowing grain seeds, my calling is to sow spiritual seeds all over the Universe.’
      Fyodorov moves to Lvov, where he founds his own printing house. In 1574, he reprints the Apostle (that officially becomes the first book ever published in the territory of the today’s Ukraine). He also published the first Slavic ABC book called Azbuka. As time passed, Ivan had to  pledge his printing house to a local money-lender. A little later, in 1580, the printer accepts the offer of the Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky, and builds a new printing house in the town of Ostrog. In two years he published five books. The Ostrog Azbuka that was made specially for the Academy of Seven Free Sciences in Ostrog, where the Church Slavic language was taught. Also, he published the New Testament, the Psalmbook and the collection of aphorisms organized as alphabetical subject index, called The Collection of Necessary Things… In 1580-1581, the first full 628-page Eastern Slavic Bible, called the Ostrog Bible, is published. Today, this book is considered to be one of the most valuable books in the world.
      It is impossible to overestimate the grandeur of this book. By that time, the book had the biggest number of copies, 1200. The preparatory work took huge efforts. To design the Bible five new fonts were created, and a great number of copper plates were produced. Besides, in the manuscript Bible sent from Moscow by Ivan 4th the Terrible, they found a lot of mistake, and they had to order more sources from abroad to verify the text.
      Some time later, the relationship between Ivan Fyodorov and the Prince Ostrozhsky became much worse, and the printer had to come back to Lvov where he reestablished a printing house. As we know, during the last year he was involved in casting an army cannon and in inventing the multibarrelled artillery mortar. It could have brought him enough money to proceed with printing. On December 5, 1583 Fyodorov passed away. He was buried at the cemetery near the Onufriev Monastery.
      By now, we have information about twelve books of Ivan Fyodorov. They are all marked by a publishing sign of the printer, – his initials I.F. One of important peculiarities of Mr. Fyodorov’s books is forewords and afterwords, containing interesting historic facts, written by the author himself.
      In 1822, a Polish historian I.P. Keppen published the first data about Ivan Fyodorov’s gravestone and its first sketch. In 1873, a plaster cast of the gravestone was made and given to the Moscow Synodal printing house. In 1883, the gravestone disappeared from the cemetery. Some people say that the Onufriev Monastery was passed to the Catholics, when at the beginning of 18th century Galicia found itself under the jurisdiction of the Pope. The gravestone was built into the floor of the cathedral, and later – into the wall. At Soviet times, the cathedral did not function, and since 1977 it was used as a museum dedicated to Ivan Fyodorov. In 1991, after the USSR breakup, the monastery got into the hands of Basilian monks, who closed the museum and threw away many of its exhibits.

    • Ivan Fyodorov’s Monument

      In 1909, a monument to Ivan Fyodorov was established in Moscow. The idea to immortalize the first Russian publisher appeared in 1870 among the representatives of the Moscow archaeological society. After the initiative of the scientist A.S. Uvarov they started to raise money all over Russia, also among workers of printing houses. By the beginning of 20th century they managed to get more than 29 thousand rubles. But the contest held failed to find a winner. In 1901, in another contest, the first prize went to the project of S.M. Volnukhin. There was another important detail: no single picture, or even description of Ivan Fyodorov’s appearance, was found. That’s why the sculptor needed help of the historian I.E. Zabelin, and the image of medieval costume was taken from the collection of the painter S.V. Ivanov. Among other important details was an original printing board and a mazzo (Italian for a leather cushion with a wooden handle for tamping paints), taken from the Moscow Synodal printing house.

    • Manuscripts of Ancient Russia

      In spite of the fact that the oldest preserved Russian manuscripts were created at the beginning of 11th century, many scientists are of the opinion that the first manuscripts could be created in the 9th century, right after the written Slavic language appeared. According to the estimates of N.K. Nokolsky, the organizer of the historical museum dedicated to the Slavic and Russian books, today in the Russian archives there are about 80-100 thousand manuscripts that were created in the 11th-18th centuries. The academician D.S. Likhachev believed that this figure was understated and in the reality there were much more books. The book of Ancient Russia is a large part of the art of that period, and this part remains insufficiently explored, because we know very little about it.

    • Old Russian scribes

      It is generally thought that in Russia of  the 11th-14th centuries book scribing was the business of the church, because prayer books were always in demand. Therefore, re-writing these books was an important job. Scribes were mainly copying texts and images, whereas chroniclers were creating their own texts.
      We don’t know much about the conditions scribes had at work. Therefore, the notes at the end of the books are especially valuable for scientists. It is necessary to mention the images of scribes, which also constitute an important witness allowing to reconstruct the work process.
      Usually in these notes a scribe would write his name and his clergy. For instance, ‘priest Upyr Likhoy’ (1047), or ‘Anthony, monk’ (1129). Among those who created books were scribes ‘by vow or by Father Superior’s order’, and simply literate secular people who earned their living doing it. According to the estimations, about half of the scribes of 9th-15th centuries could be civil scribes, according to the other estimations, almost all the scribes worked in church.
      The scribe’s job demanded a lot of attention, diligence, and time from the scribes. For example, the copy of the oldest manuscript the Ostromir Gospels was scribed in 7 months (October 1056 – May 1057). As estimated, in one day it was possible to re-write 1 page and a half. Often scribes mentioned in their records that they worked day and night, and that they were sorry for any mistakes.
      Before the 14th century, books were manufactured from parchment (Greek Pergamos – Pergamon, today known as Bergama, the town in Asia Minor. In the 2nd century B.C. this material was widely used there). The parchment represented specially processed animal leather. The use of parchment changed the very form of the book, which from a scroll (which existed before parchment) turned into a modern book (the so called ‘code’).
      The edges of parchment pages were accurately cut, so that a book would have a rectangular form. Geese feathers and inks of different colours were used to apply letters. The source manuscript was placed on a special pedestal – stand. Near the stand there was a cabinet with all the necessary tools. Expensive cinnabar was used as a red paint. The techniques of writing required a lot of practice. To get straight lines, first the parchment was ruled with a sharp tool.

    • Book writing

      Initial letters were often applied with cinnabar (red paint obtained from red mercury mineral). The well-known expression ‘red line’ (Russian for paragraph break) takes origin from this custom. Bloomer, the first letter of a text, was always much bigger than all the other letters, because it was one of the key elements of book illustration. Sometimes this letter was decorated with ornaments. Often they made pictures in the manuscripts, and the beginning of the text was decorated by ornaments. Now historians and art critics study these ornaments, because they let us judge if the pictures were adopted from another book or represented an independent work of the artist.
      As the cultural relations in Ancient Russia developed, more and more foreign books appeared. Often they were brought by ambassadors and merchants. In particular, some of the books were brought by Italian masters that came to participate in the Kremlin cathedrals construction. Most of the books were taken from Constantinople where Russian monks often translated foreign books. The ornaments were influenced by the Byzantine Empire, Venice, Germany, and other European countries, where the process of book publishing was invented earlier than in Russia. The book graphics changed with time. In the 13th-14th centuries the teratological ornament was mainly used, it included the images of animals, myth creatures, birds, and snakes. But in the 15th century the geometry of ornaments became popular, it was based on the use of different patterns and objects from everyday life, sometimes combined with flower motifs.

    • The oldest manuscripts

      The Ostromir Gospels (1054). In his notes, Grigory, one of the scribes of this book, tells that the manuscript was made for a Novgorod governor Ostromir, who was sent to Novgorod by the Kiev Prince Izyaslav Yaroslavich in 1054. It is a 294-page edition illustrated with beautiful pictures: evangelists, ornaments, and picturesque bloomers. The text structure is executed with the utmost grace, it has straight lines of text in Slavic Cyrillic alphabet. The ornaments were influenced by Byzantine traditions. The book was scribed in only one copy.
      The Svyatoslav’s Izbornik (1073). The book was prepared in Kiev for Prince Svyatoslav Yaroslavich. It is a true encyclopedia, containing more than 400 categories – history, math, natural science, and other spheres. A Bulgarian collection of the 10th century, intended for tsar Simeon, served as a source for this book. It is one of the biggest ancient books.
      The Archangel Gospel (1092). The scriber noted in his records that this book was the collection of several princes’ books. Mainly, the book contains articles of religious and moral character. It also contains the text ‘A Word About Reading Books’, where the author gives recommendations about how to read a book. This manuscript is unique from the point of view of linguistics, paleography and bibliology. In 2000, the book was put on the UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register.

    • Development of book scribing

      At the turn of the 13th century, the word ‘scriber’ became a usual word, because the process of book scribing became an independent handicraft branch, often not related to the church. The book stores started selling chronographs, codes of law, collected aphorisms, legends, etc.). As time passed, paper from abroad appeared which brought to life new stitching techniques. In some books colourful illustrations overshadowed the text. Intending to decorate a book as much as possible, headlines and bloomers were written in gold, the books were bound by expensive leather, designed with jewels. All these led to the division of labour in publishing.
      At the beginning of the 16th century, in the publishing process appeared several different highly  specialized professions. For instance, a scriber would write the text, an article scrivener would work with cinnabar and gold, a painter would make illustrations, a gold smith and a filigree master, ho may be called book jewelers, would decorate the book framework.

    • Centers of book wisdom

      Since the 11th century, the process of book scribing was guarded by the princes and the church. At the epoch, monasteries were not only religious, but also cultural centers. It was the monasteries where the annals were recorded and ancient Russian literature was created. Kiev and Novgorod were the leading book cities of the 11th-century Russia. We can find the first mention of a book workshop in The Primary Chronicle (1037), which says that Yaroslav the Wise created a big workshop to translate and copy books at the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.
      It is important to mention other publishing centers of Russia. In the 12th century, Spaso-Mirozhsky Monastery was founded in Pskov, where a library was created. The Nativity of the Virgin Mary Monastery in the Vladimir-Suzdal principality made an important contribution to the process of book publishing. The Principality of Galicia-Volhynia also took active part in the book exchange with other ancient publishing centers. In the Rostov eparchy, in the Uspensky cathedral, the annals recording was originated right after Ury Dolgoruky had become a prince (in the middle of the 12th century). In the middle of the 14th century, the cultural connections between Russia and book centers of Constantinople and Athos were established. By the end of the 15th century, the process of book publishing was spread all over the country. Every publishing center had its own features. In the 14th century, after Moscow began to turn into the future capital of Russia, it became the main publishing center of Russia.