Russia Heads

Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership
Heads of state of Russia
(Female Suffrage 1917) A former Empire became a Soviet Republic in 1917 and was part of the Soviet Union 1922 until it regained its independence 26.12.91

See also Russian Substates and Female Presidents of Unterstate Entities

945-55 Regent Dowager Grand Duchess Olga of Russia and Novgerod
For Svyatoslav, she later became Saint Olga. Lived (circa 890-969)

1359-64 (†) Regent Dowager Grand Duchess Aleksandra of Russia and Moscow
For son Dimitri IV. She died 1364.

1425-30 Regent Dowager Grand Princess Sofia of Lithuania of Moscow and Vladimir (Russia)
After the death of her husband, Vasiliy, she was regent for her fourth and only surviving 10 year old son, Vasiliy II the Blind III, who reingned until 1433 and again 1434-62. She was daughter of Great Duke Vytautas the Great of Lithuania (1392-1430) and Anna of Smolensk, and lived (1371-1453).

After 1472-1503 Politically Influential Grand Duchess Sophia Palaiologina of Moscow and Russia
Over the years she started to wield great influence on her aged husband, Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of all the Russians (1440-1505). It is thought that she was the first to introduce the Kremlin to grand Byzantine ceremonies and meticulous etiquette. The idea of Moscow as the Third Rome evidently pleased her. Shortly before her death she persuaded her husband to pass the throne to her son Vasili, rather than to Ivan's grandson Dmitry, as had been planned earlier. Apart from Vasili III, only her fifth son, Andrey of Staritsa, left issue. She was daughter of Thomas Palaeologus, the Despot of Morea and was taken to Rome together with her brothers after conquest of Morea by Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire in 1460. In Rome, her Greek name Zoe was changed to Sophia. She lived (circa 1455-1503).

1533-38 (†) Regent Dowager Grand Duchess Yelena Vasilevna Glinskaya
For son Ivan IV the Terrible until her death.

1547-60 Member of the Chosen Council Tsaritsa Anastasia Romanovna Zakharyina of Russia
Also known as Anastasiia Zakharina, she was member of the Chosen Council with a number military leaders, priests which karried out a number of political, military, and ecclesiastical reforms during the reign of her husband, Ivan the terrible. She was periodically able to control her husband, Ivan IV's fits of bad temper, and those periods were known as the "good part" of his reign. After her death - during the "bad part" he carried out a reign of terror against the boyars. He married six more times, and treated his wives cruelly: one was drowned, three were imprisoned, and two were sent to a nunnery. She lived (1530–60)

1598 De facto Ruler Tsarina Irina Godunova of Russia  (7-17 January)
She was considered to be the  effective ruler throughout the reign of her weak husband Fedor I Ivanovich from 1584. In 1598 she took the throne for ten days before retirering to a convent to become a nun. After a brief interregnum, her brother Boris Godunov, was elected to succeed her. (d. 1603).

1605(†) Regent Dowager Grand Duchess Maria Grigorevna Skuratova-Bel'skaya
For Fedor II who ruled for 6 month. They were both killed.
Sometime known as Malyuta-Skuratova but Maluta was her father's surname, she lived (circa 1560-1605)  

1606  De-Facto Ruler Tsarina Marina Mniszech of Russia (18.-25. May)
She was married to the false Dmitri I and the usurper Vasily IV Shuiski. She probably died in prison and lived (circa 1588-1614).

1613-19 Regent Ksenia Ivanovna Shestova
For Mikael Romanov (1613-45). Her name is also transcribed as Kseniya Šestova, and she lived (1596-1637).

1645 Regent Dowager Empress Yudokia Lukyamanova Stresneva
For son Alexei. She was regent from July till her death one month later.
Her name is also transcribed as Evdokiya Luk'yanovna, and she lived (1608-45)

1682 and 1689-94 Regent Dowager Empress Natalya Kirillovna Naryshkaina
For Fedor III. She was deposed
after one month by her stepdaughter, and
held power from 27th of April to the 26th of May and again 29th of May until the 29th of June and agin from September 1689.  Her name is was also trancribed as Natal'ya Kirillovna Naryškina, she lived (1651-94)

1682-86 Grand Duchess Regnant Sopfiya Aleksyevna Romanova
1686-89 Autocrat
Regent for two brothers Alexei and Peter the Great, who was deposed 1689. She lived (1657-1704).

1725-27 Tsaritsa/Imperatitsa Regnant Catherine I
Yekatarina was born as Maria Skavronaskaya as the outcast infant of a Livonian peasant-girl. Became nurse in the family of the Protestant minister of Marienburg. In 1701 she married a Swedish dragoon, who soon afterwards went with his regiment to Riga, and never returned. After the capture of Marienburg by the Russians, she became the mistress first of General Bauer, with whom she lived at Moscow, secondly of Prince Menschikoff, and finally of Peter the Great, who first married her privately near Warsaw, and later publicly in 1712 at St. Petersburg. She then embraced the Eastern Orthodox religion, and took the name of Yekatarina. On the death of Peter in 1725, she was proclaimed czarina. Her death was the result of intemperance. Lived (circa 1684-1727)

1730-40 Tsaritsa/Imperatitsa Regnant Anna Ivanovna
She was Duchess of Courland when the Privy Council members chose her and  imposed on her a constitution modeled after Sweden's which restored some of their previously lost privileges and freed them from compulsory service. She agreed not to marry again, gave up the royal right to declare war and to levy taxes, and allowed the Privy Council to name her successor. After coming to power, Anna enlisted support of opponents of the court aristocracy and rescinded all prior concessions. Under her rule power of the government shifted from the Privy Council to the ministers she brought from Kurland, the so-called German party, dominated by Baron Ostermann, an excellent administrator, Munnich, the builder of the Ladoga Canal, and Anna's favourite, Ernst Johann Biron. The German party was strongly disliked by the Russians, especially Biron, who used his position for personal aggrandizement. Opposition to the ruling government, however, was punished with torture, death and exile. She lived (1693-1740)

1740-41 Regent Grand Duchess Anna Leopoldovna
Her son, Ivan VI succeeded her aunt, Zaritsa Anna. She was given the title of Gand Duchess and she was regent for her infant son, who was deposed by Elisabeth.

1741-62 Tsaritsa/Imperatitsa Regnant Elisabeth Petrovna
Full title was Yelisabeth, Empress and Autocrat of All the Russias, Tsarisa of Moscow, Kiev, Wladimir, Novgorod, Kazan, Astrakhan, Poland, Siberia, the Chersonnese Taurics, and Georgia, Lady of Pskov, Grand Duchess of Smolensk, Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia and Finland, Prince of Estonia, Livonia, Courland and Semigallia, Samogitia, Bielostock, Carelia, Tver, Yongoria, Perm, Vlatks, Bolgaria, and of other lands, Lady and Grand Duchess of Lower Novgorod, Tchernigov, Riasan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslav, Belosero, Oudoria, Obdoria, Condia, Vitebsk, Mstislav, and all the Northern Region, Lady and Sovereign of the lands of Iveria, Cartalinia, Kabardinia and the provinces of Armenia, Lady of the Circassian and Mountain princes, Lady of Turkestan, Supreme Defender and Guardian of the Dogmas of the (Russian Orthodox) Church. She was daughter of Peter I the Great and was succeeded by sister’s son, Peter III (of Holstein-Gottorp). She lived (1709-62)

1762-96 Tsaritsa/Imperatitsa Regnant Catherine II the Great
1762-81 Queen of Sibiria (Sibirskoye Tsartvo)
Yekatarina II was born as Princess Sophia Augusta zu Anhalt-Zerbst and was also Countess Regnant of  Jever in Germany. Born as Princess Sophia Augusta zu Anhalt-Zerbst. On her marriage in 1745 with Peter, nephew and heir of the Empress Elizabeth, assumed the name of Yekatarina Alexievna. Her refinement and love of study contrasted with her husband's vulgarity and intemperance; neglected by him, she ingratiated herself with some of the nobles. Her intrigues were discovered by Peter and, on ascending the throne in 1762, he threatened to repudiate her, whereupon she imprisoned him and had him strangled. The subsequent murder of Ivan, the next heir, left Catherine in undisputed possession of the throne. Considering herself a ruler in line with enlightenment ideas, she supported progressive ideas, such as reforms in law, education, and provincial and municipal administration. But she ruled as an autocrat and suppressed Polish nationalists, which led to Poland's partition, and took the Crimea and parts of the Black Sea coast from Turkey. In 1762 Siberia was created a separate Kingdom in a Personal union with Russia until it was incorporated in the Empire. She was also famous for her long succession of young lovers. She lived (1729-

1796-1828 Politically Influential Tzarina Maria Fyodorovna von Württemberg
Her husband, Paul I Petrovich succeeded his mother, Catharina II in 1796. He was unpopular at court and extremely hostile toward his mother. His coronation signaled a break with the stability of Catherine's reign. Paul I freed those imprisoned by the Privy Council, liberated the Poles, abolished conscription and limited the power of landowners over the serfs. On April 5, 1797, he issued a decree on rights of succession that established procedures for the transfer of power from one monarch to the next. In foreign policy, he performed an abrupt reversal, changing from war with France to union with her. This was probably one of the main reasons for his murdern in 1801. She continued to be influential during the reign of her son, Alexander I. Born as Sophie Marie Dorothea, she was mother of 10 children and lived (1759-1828).

10-19 Politically Influential Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna Romanova
She was influential during the reign of her brother, Alexander I of Russia. After their marriage in 1809 her husband, Peter Friedrich George von Oldenburg (1784-1812) was appointed govenor-general of Tver province When Napoleon annexed the German territories on the Baltic, including her husband's Grand Duchy, her brother protested against what he considered a personal offense, and together with other events this resulted in the war between France and Russia. The Tsar adopted the reactionary ideas of a patriotic group which she dominated, and during the Napoleonic Wars in 1812-15 she formed a special regiment of chasseurs. In 1812 some conspirators planned to deposed tzar Alexander and put her on the throne as tzarina Catherine III Pavlovna. 1816 she married her cousin King Wilhelm of Würrttemberg and she dedicated her time on
establishing charitable institution, education and culture. The daughter of Pavel I Petrovich Romanov, Tsar of Russia and Sophie Marie Dorothea von Württemberg, known as Tsarina Maria Fyodorovna, she was mother of two sons by her first husband, and two daughters by her second, and lived (1788-1819).

1881-94 Politically Influential Tsarina Maria Feodorovna of Russia
She fulfilled her new role to perfection, bringing an enormous degree of elegance to the court. She also indirectly influenced her husband, Alexander IIIs deep suspicion of Bismarck and Hohenzollern Germany. She was Head of the Russian Red Cross and continued her charities and was constantly seen visiting hospitals and comforting wounded soldiers. It was during this time, when Russia's government seemed adrift, that the Dowager Empress lost complete faith in her daughter-in-law's involvement in governing the empire. After the revolution she spend her last years in exile in Hvidøre outside Copenhagen and never accepted the faith of her children and grandchildren. She was daughter of King Christian IX and Louise von Hessen-Kassel of Denmark. Her sister was Queen Alexandra of United Kingdom and her younger brother, Wilhelm, was elected king of Greece and took the name of Georg. Born as Princess Dagmar of Denmark, she was mother of five children, and lived (1847-1928).

1915-17 Regent Tsarina/Imperatitsa Alexandra Fyodorovna
She was de-facto in charge of the government business during her husband, Zar/Emperor Nicolai’s time as commander-in-chief during World War I. But she obtained his endorsement of her decisions. In 1918 the whole family - including the four daughters and son were executed during the revolution. She was born as Princess Alix von Hessen und beim Rhein and lived (1872-1918)

1955-59 Vice-President Zoia Anan’evna Andreeva
Between 1937-55 President of the Autonomous Republic of Cuvas, formerly Minister of Social Affairs of the State. She lived (1899-1982)

1959-63 Vice-President A.P. Mamontova

1963-67 Vice-President T.M. Sabriova

1963-67 Vice-President U.M. Vasilieva
Member of the Council of State Galina Starovoitova

2011- 2. Deputy Head of State, Chairperson of the Federation Council Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko
Member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and Chairperson of the Committee of Women’s, Family and Children’s Issues and Member of the Presidium 1989-91, Soviet Ambassador to Malta 1991 and 1994-97 and to Greece 1997-98 for Russia. Former head of the Foreign Ministry’s Department in charge of relations with Russian Regions, Vice-Premier 1998-2003, Presidential Plenipotentiary Representative to North-West Russia 2003 and Governor of St. Petersborg 2003-11. (b. 1949)


Last update 25.09.11