In the current sanctions climate Russian names (similarly names from Ukraine and Belarus) are important to get right, there are lots of them, and political tensions are significant.

Fortunately Russian names are very straight forward. There is a forename, a patronymic name, and a surname. No deviations.

The surname is gender specific, a boy and girl would not have the same surname.

The patronymic is based upon the father’s forename and is again gender specific.

The forename, like most languages is gender specific.

A Russian wife will normally change her surname to a female version of her husband’s surname.

Here is an example:

Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN – His father was obviously called Vladimir PUTIN as well, which is why his patronymic is Vladimirovich.

He has a daughter called (originally):

Maria Vladimirovna PUTINA – Note the feminine version of the PUTIN surname, and feminine version of Vladimirovich.

He had a wife:

Lyudmila Aleksandrovna PUTINA (nee SHKREBNEVA), from this we can deduce that her father’s name is Aleksander SHKREBNEV

All pretty much straight forward, and easy for matching and investigation. The complexity – like our previous article on Korean names – comes with transliteration. Russian names are in the Cyrillic alphabet:

Cyrillic

Which is converted into Latin characters in one of several different ways:

Сергій Геннадійович Арбузов -> Sergіj Gennadіjovič Arbuzov
ISO Transliteration

Сергій Геннадійович Арбузов -> Sergіĭ Gennadіĭovich Arbuzov
ALA-LC – American Library Association and Library of Congress

Сергій Геннадійович Арбузов -> Sergіy Gennadіyovich Arbuzov
BGN – American Board of Geographic Names

Сергій Геннадійович Арбузов -> Sergіj Gennadіjovič Arbuzov
GOST – Russian Commonwealth standard

Each transliteration gives a different result (OK ISO and GOST are the same for this name, but they can produce different results). This transliteration issue isn’t as problematic as with Korean names because here we have reasonably long names, with few differences, the sort of thing that fuzzy matches was made to work with.

So make use of the very strict format of the Russian name, but beware of the issues with transliterations, and also beware of the Cyrillic false friends (see more here).

 

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