In a study published in the journal ‘Scientific Data’, Amy Yu and her colleagues at the MIT Media Lab describe the Pantheon 1 dataset, a database of ‘globally famous people, people whose biographies are present in more than 25 languages on Wikipedia.
A total of 11341 people made it to this list, 111 of which were born within the borders of present-day Ukraine, placing Ukraine 17th on the ranking of countries where famous people were born.
In this article, we are going to talk about some of the most famous people that were born in Ukraine, as well as their overall contributions to their country and the world.
Ukrainians have a strong sense of national pride, even with international recognition and migration they still regard their country fondly.
This aspect is further supported by the number of prominent persons who have gone back home to take up arms or speak against the Russian invasion.
Let’s look at the most famous Ukrainians.
Click here to read more about other famous people.
1. Volodymyr Zelensky – President (Incumbent)
Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy ( (born 25 January 1978) is a Ukrainian politician, former actor, and comedian, he is the sixth and incumbent president of Ukraine.
He is the man of the moment.
Currently, the most admired person in the free world and is presented by the media as the antithesis of Putin and Russia’s target No.1
The post-soviet era gave him an opportunity to mock politicians in a comedy show on KVN TV(Russia). With his friends, they created their own troop Kvartal 95 (95th quarter). He went on to study law but built a career in comedy.
When Crimea was annexed Zelensky and the Kvartal 95 troops cut all dealings with the Russian market and donated a substantial amount of money to the Ukrainian army.
Cutting ties with the Russian market increased his popularity which translated to huge viewership of his Servant of the People series that ran for 3 seasons
When he announced his bid for the presidency in 2018, he had no experience but gave 2 big promises; he would fight corruption including confronting oligarchs and he would end the war in Donbas.
Projecting himself as an alternative to his predecessors the Ukrainian voters gave him a 73% nod.
Unfortunately, the war in Donbas has escalated into Europe’s biggest crisis since World War II with fatalities at over 1,000 and still counting and 3 million refugees.
However, when the US government offered to take him from Kyiv he declined and asked for ammunition instead.
He appears on TV every day in a jungle green T-shirt to reassure his people. Zelensky is a master of electronic and digital media and from some polls, he is currently the most popular politician in the USA (even more popular than POTUS).
He has risen to the occasion. From comedian to a wartime president, he is definitely one famous Ukrainian
2. Vladmir Klitschko- Boxer/Politician
Wladimir Wladimirowitsch Klitschko is a Ukrainian former professional boxer who competed from 1996 to 2017.
He held the world heavyweight championship twice, including the unified WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles.
Klitschko is one of the best heavyweight champions of all time. He was known for his exceptional knockout power.
As an amateur, Klitschko represented Ukraine at the 1996 Olympics, winning a gold medal in the super-heavyweight division.
Klitschko, 50, became mayor in 2014, as well as head of the Kyiv City State Administration. That same year, Klitschko was a leading figure in the protests against closer ties with Russia.
And now, as Kyiv is under siege, Klitschko is again at the forefront of defending Ukraine.
3. Yulia Tymoshenko- Politician
Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko was born on November 27, 1960, in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine).
Upon graduating from high school in 1979, she continued her education at Dnipropetrovsk State University. Her major was economics-cybernetics in the Department of Economics.
In 1984, he graduated with distinction. She started to work as an engineer-economist at the Dnipropetrovsk machine-building plant.
Tymoshenko is a Ukrainian politician. She was the Prime Minister of Ukraine twice. She is the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland”; which is the biggest opposition political party in Ukraine.
Before her political career, Yulia Tymoshenko was a successful businesswoman in the gas industry, becoming by some estimates one of the richest people in the country.
Before becoming Ukraine’s first female Prime Minister in 2005, Tymoshenko co-led the Orange Revolution.
Tymoshenko supports Ukraine’s integration into the European Union and fights for justice for ordinary citizens of Ukraine.
4. Ani Lorak- Pop Rock Artist
Karolina Miroslavivna Kuiek, popularly known as Ani Lorak is a Ukrainian pop singer, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, and former UN Goodwill Ambassador.
Ani Lorak developed the desire to become a singer as early as the age of four and often performed at various school vocal competitions.
She is a recipient of Ukraine’s most prestigious and honorary title, the People’s Artist of Ukraine.
Lorak has been cited as one of the most powerful and influential women in her country, as well as ranked one of the most beautiful women from Eastern Europe.
She represented Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 with the song “Shady Lady” and came in 2nd place behind Dima Bilan from Russia.
Lorak became known outside of the former Soviet Union after she represented Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 with the song Shady Lady, coming in second place behind a Russian singer.
5. Karina Smirnoff- Dancer
Karina Smirnoff is a Ukrainian professional ballroom dancer. She is best known to the general public as a professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars, winning the 13th season with army veteran and soap opera star J. R. Martinez.
She’s also won a runner-up title, a semi-final title, and several quarter-finals titles.
She is a five-time U.S. National Champion, World Trophy Champion, and Asian Open Champion.
Smirnoff has won the title at the UK Open, is a three-time champion at the US Open, a two-time champion at the Asian Open, a five-time champion at the Dutch Open, and five-time US National Professional Champion.
She was runner-up at the British Open Blackpool Dance Festival and she is the first woman to also ever make the “British Professional Final” with three different partners.
6. Mila Kunis- Actress
Milena Markovna Kunis is an American actress.
In 1991, at the age of seven, she and her Jewish family fled from Soviet Ukraine to the United States.
At age 14, Kunis began playing Jackie Burkhart on the Fox television series That ’70s Show (1998–2006). Since 1999, she has voiced Meg Griffin on the Fox animated series Family Guy.
Having established herself as a rising television star with a series of guest spots and recurring roles her breakout film role came in the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
She gained further critical acclaim and accolades for her performance in the psychological thriller Black Swan for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
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7. Vasyl Lomachenko- Boxer
He is a Ukrainian professional boxer.
He is a former world champion in three weight classes, having held the WBO featherweight title, the WBO junior lightweight, and the unified WBA (Super), WBC, WBO, and Ring magazine lightweight titles.
Lomachenko is one of the most successful amateur boxers of all time, possessing a record of 396 wins and 1 loss.
His exceptional hand speed, timing, accuracy, creativity, athleticism, defense, and footwork are legendary.
Lomachenko made his professional debut in 2013. He ties the record with Saensak Muangsurin for winning a world title in the fewest professional fights, becoming the WBO featherweight champion in his third fight.
All of his professional fights except the debut were world championship fights.
In the wake of the Russian invasion in March 2022 of Ukraine, Vasiliy Lomachenko joined a territorial defense battalion in Ukraine.
Read more on famous people from other countries here.
8. Leon Trotsky- Marxist
Lev Davidovich Bronstein better known as Leon Trotsky was a Ukrainian-Russian Marxist revolutionary, political theorist, and politician. In the 1920–30s, Trotsky was an important figure in the Marxist opposition against Joseph Stalin.
He critiqued the degeneration of the Soviet regime and inspired many socialists who continued working for an international working-class revolution in opposition to the model of ‘socialism in one country.
The USSR expelled him in 1929 and he was killed in 1940.
Trotsky is also well-known as a theoretician, cultural commentator, and historical chronicler.
He developed a variant of Marxism which has become known as Trotskyism. His body of work informs the movement known as Trotskyism.
9. Olga Kurylenko- Model/ Actress
Olga Konstantinovna Kurylenko is a French actress and model Of Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian ancestry.
Kurylenko started modeling at the age of 13 in Ukraine.
She started her acting career in 2005 and found success in her role in the film Hitman (2007).
She is best known as Bond girl Camille Montes in the 22nd James Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008), and as the supervillain Taskmaster in the Marvel Studios film, Black Widow (2021).
Olga Kurylenko grew up in poverty sharing a Soviet flat with her aunt, uncle, grandparents, and cousin, and is now starring as a Bond girl opposite Daniel Craig.
10. Fedir Pirotsky- Electric Tram Inventor
Pirotsky was a Ukrainian engineer and the inventor of the first railway electrification system and electric tram.
In early 1880, he used electricity to power a horse-driven tramway.
The residents of Saint Petersburg started using trams on September 3rd of the same year.
Some historians allege that this was the first electric tram in the world. Sadly, Pirotsky lacked enough funds to continue his experiments coupled with the slow commercialization of his inventions in Russia.
Consequently, Pirotsky arranged a meeting with Carl Heinrich von Siemens, who was very interested in his ideas.
As a result of their meeting, Siemens eventually introduced the first regular electric tram line into the public transportation system of Berlin.
11. Andriy Shevchenko- Footballer
Andriy Mykolayovych Shevchenko is a Ukrainian football manager, a former professional football player, and a former politician.
A school in Kyiv rejected him for his dribbling skills but was later absorbed into the youth squad of Ukraine’s elite club Dynamo Kyiv.
As a striker, Shevchenko was lethal and one of the best. He played as a striker for Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea, and the Ukraine national team. Shevchenko was most recently head coach of Serie A club Genoa.
He is among the top goalscorers in all European competitions with 67 goals.
Furthermore, he is the all-time top scorer for the Ukrainian national team with 48 goals.
Shevchenko is a recipient of the Ballon d’Or in 2004 (becoming the third Ukrainian, after Oleg Blokhin and Igor Belanov, to receive it).
He won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 with Milan, and he has also won various league and cup titles in Ukraine, Italy, and England. He was also a Champions League runner-up in 2005 and 2008. He was named in the FIFA World XI for 2005.
12. Milla Jovovich- Actress and Model
She has starred in numerous science-fiction and action films. She is known for her role in the 1991 romance film Return to the Blue Lagoon. Milla’s breakthrough role was in the science-fiction action film The Fifth Element.
From 2002 to 2016, Milla portrayed Alica in the action horror film franchise Resident Evil which became the highest-grossing film series to be based on video games.
Milla has been on the cover of more than a thousand magazines and has been the face of numerous brands.
13. Taissa Farmiga- Actress
She is known for her numerous appearances in horror films that established her as a scream queen.
She made her debut in the film Higher Ground and rose to fame for her work on the series American Horror Story, Coven, Roanke, and Apocalypse.
Taissa is also famous for roles in the Final Girls, 6 Years, Share, and Rules Don’t Apply. In 2019, she appeared as Annie in an episode of the CBS All Access series The Twilight Zone.
14. Katheryn Winnick- Actress
She is known for starring roles in the television series Vikings, Big Sky, and Wu Assassins.
She has also starred in the films Choose, Amusement, and The Art of the Steal. Polar, and The Marksman.
In 2012, she won the Beverly Hills Film Festival under the category of Best Actress. In 2015 and 2016, Katheryn was nominated for the Women’s Image Network Awards under the same, category Best Actress in a Drama Series.
15. Tanu Muino- Music Director and Photographer
She is known for her work on music videos for popular artists like Harry Styles, Cardi B, Normani, Time and Glass, Monatik, Nastya Kamenskikh, and IOWA.
Tanu began collaborating with the Ukrainian singer Monatik in 2016. She has directed 14 of his videos.
She has won the annual Ukrainian YUNA award for three years in a row. In 2021, Tanu won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Direction along with Lil Nas X for the music video Montero.
Read more on famous people from other countries here.
Ukraine has gifted the world with top-notch talents, inventions, and thought leaders. Their courage in the face of a Goliath neighbor who wants to annex it is proof of their self-determination.
Despite the ever-present threat to their sovereignty they come out and put their best foot forward.