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Published: April 29th 2014
When I travel through a state or country, I enjoy unearthing famous residents. I would think Siberia would be home to quite a few interesting characters. The list includes Boris Yeltsin, Catherine the Great, Vitas Bering, Rudolf Nureyev, Dmitri Mendeleev, Grigori Rasputin, Raisa Titorenko Gorbachev, Kim Jun Il, Yul Brynner, Boris Godunov, Genghis Khan, and Ivan the Terrible.
As a young teenager in high school, I learned much about Mendeleev. He is credited with formulating the periodic table of elements. He created his own periodic table of elements and used it to correct the properties of some already discovered elements and to predict element yet to be discovered. But perhaps most importantly, he was appointed director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, where he formulated the new state standards for the production of vodka. In his honor, the crater Mendeleev on the moon, and element 101, the radioactive mendelevium, are named after him.
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I did not have the chance to study about any of the other famous Siberian residents. But the name Rasputin
seems to ring a bell, what with the music company of the same name here on the West Coast. He was an advisor to the Romanovs, and was obsessed by religion, and blessed with a great knowledge of the Bible. The Tsar's family saw him as a saintly mystic, visionary, healer, and prophet. But his enemies viewed him as a debauched religious charlatan, mostly interested in having sexual relations with his followers.
Perhaps I spoke too soon about not knowing Boris and Natasha. Though not Godunov, he was Boris Badunov. Very clever. He was a 1960s fictional character in the animated cartoon TV series, The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show. We delighted in watching this "adult" cartoon. Boris was a spy for Pottsylvania, taking orders from Fearless Leader, and the rarely seen Mr. Big. His main goal in life was to steal a secret rocket fuel formula, and eliminating television from the United States. Of course, the real Boris Godunov
was a Russian Tsar from 1598 to 1605, until the Time of Troubles
Genghis Khan became Emperor of the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous empire in history after his demise. He came to power by uniting various Nomadic tribes throughout northeast Asia. There is little factual information about this man named Tamujin. Most remarkable to me is that roughly 8%!o(MISSING)f all males in a large region of Asia can be directly descended from The Khan. So, in Mongolia alone, roughly 200,000 of the country's two million could be Khan descendants.
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I just love the name, Ivan the Terrible, though he was born Ivan Vasilyevic. I knew a guy named Bob Vasilovich from Reedley, CA when I was growing up. He was the Tsar of All the Russias from 1547 to 1584. His reign transformed Russia into a multi-ethnic and multiconfessional state spanning over one billion acres! He invented beef stroganov in 1558 (just kidding!). He did give the Stroganov family the rights to develop the region along the Karma River. Maybe that is where the term, "bad karma" came from? He was known both for being intelligent and devout, as well as prone to fits of rage, and mental illness. I am glad he will not be around during my visit.
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