Person of the Year

Leonid Slutsky

Leonid Slutsky is a Soviet and Russia soccer player, a goalkeeper and coach. Since October 26, 2009, he has been the head coach of CSKA soccer club, and since August 7, 2015, the head coach of the Russian national team.

After suffering a compound fracture in his youth, Slutsky was no longer able to play soccer professionally and for 22 years, exactly half his life, he has coached professionally. Under his leadership, CSKA has won the national championship twice, and the Cup and the Super Cup of Russia, including a golden double: winning both the championship and the Cup in one season. Experts call Slutsky the best coach and instructor in Russia and just the kind of specialist the team needs now.

In taking on this ambitious challenge, Leonid Slutsky will coach for about 30 games as the head of the Russian national team and CSKA by the end of the year, including decisive matches for the national team to make it to the finals of the 2016 European championship and CSKA’s matches in the League of Champions. Those four months with the national team will be hard work for Slutsky. He will be paid only by CSKA, and the national team will compensate the club Slutsky’s salary for the time he will be on the team. The coach will receive a bonus if the national team reaches Euro 2016.

Sergei Kapkov

Sergei Kapkov had been the head of the Moscow Department of Culture since the autumn of 2011, when he resigned from that office at a meeting of city government on March 10, 2015.

In the time Kapkov occupied that office, he managed to popularize city cultural institutions and parks, especially among young people. He was even called the "Minister of Hipsters." One of the first decisions Kapkov made in office was to waive entrance fee for museums in Moscow during the New Years and Christmas holidays and on the third Sunday of every month. During his tenure, Moscow museums equalized admission prices for Russians and foreigners and extended their hours to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. The number of visitors to museums in Moscow increased by almost 20 percent by 2012, and exceeded 6 million people a year for the first time.

Kapkov gave the city parks and bike paths. Under his leadership, comprehensive improvements were made in 14 Moscow cultural and recreational parks, including Sokolniki, Bauman Garden, Krasnaya Presnya Park, Fili and the Muzeon. The Winter in the Park program was developed and winter infrastructure was created: a covered skating rink, a snowboard park, hills and trails. From 2011 to 2013, visits to parks almost doubled, reaching 19 million people.

Another of Kapkov’s important accomplishments was the renovation of Moscow theaters. Oleg Menshikov was appointed artistic director of Yermolov Theater. Grigory Papish was made director of the Moscow Puppet Theater, Kirill Serebrennikov became the artistic director of Gogol Theater, Irina Apeksimova was made the director of Roman Viktyuk Theater. Through a series of significant personnel changes, reconstruction and the updating of repertoires, theater attendance increased and their popularity grew among young and middle-aged people.

Kapkov also began the updating of the library system in Moscow. The Moscow City Library Center was created. Pilot projects were developed to transform five libraries into a new type of library – Moscow city livingrooms, with a unified electronic catalog, unified interior design and a standard package of services.

Pedestrian zones were created in the historic center of the capital, on Kuznetsky Most, Lavrushinsky Lane, Stoleshnikov, Kamergersky and Rozhdestvenka, with Kapkov personally involved. He made improvements to city-wide events such as City Day and Museum Night. In 2013, Moscow’s Museum Night was the most ambitious in Europe, involving 246 cultural institutions and more than 1.2 million visitors. Those are record figures for the seven years the event has taken place in Moscow.

Yury Milner

Yury Milner is an entrepreneur, manager, co-owner of Group and DST Global, former chairman of Group and one of the richest businessmen in Russia. Forbes estimated his fortune at $3.2 billion in 2015.

A physicist by training, Milner is known for his large-scale support of the sciences. In 2012-2013, he established three Breakthrough Prize awards: for fundamental physics, for medical breakthroughs and for breakthrough in mathematics, with a prize fund of $3 million each. Milner said of the prizes that one of their purposes was to popularize science and reduce the gap in scientists’ and ordinary people’s perceptions of the world. Public lectures, to be read by every winner, are among the ways to reach that goal. In the four years of the award’s existence, 15 people have received it for fundamental physics alone.

In late 2013, Milner took Bill and Melinda Gates’ and Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least half of his wealth to charity during his lifetime. At the end of July 2015, Milner announced the creation of Breakthrough Initiatives, a program to search for extraterrestrial life, in which he plans to invest $100 million of his personal funds in 10 years.

Ruben Vardanian

Ruben Vardanian is a Russian-Armenian entrepreneur and manager, who was director and controlling shareholder of the Troika Dialog investment company from 1992 to 2012 and one of the founders and first president of the Moscow Skolkovo School of Management. Along with his wife Veronika and their partners, Ruben founded a United World College for teens, UWC Dilijan College, in Dilijan, an hour's drive from Yerevan. The project received $150 million in investment (donor funds). The official opening of the college was in October 2014.

In the spring of 2015, Vardanian, businessman philanthropist Noubar Afeyan and Carnegie Foundation president Vartan Gregorian launched 100 Lives. This global project is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which claimed the lives of nearly half a million people between 1915 and 1923. The 100 Lives website tells stories of salvation and humanitarian feats during the Genocide.

For Ruben, it is a personal story. His grandfather Amayak was rescued by American missionaries who came to Armenia in 1915. Amayak was born in the city Archesh in the Ottoman Empire. In 1915, they killed his father and older brothers, and he and his mother and other relatives left for Armenia – on foot. Amayak’s mother and younger sister soon starved to death, but the grandfather made it to a shelter in Etchmiadzin, in today’s Armenia. His surname was Terterbalyan, but he did not know it and only gave the name of his grandfather: Vartan. Thus he became Vardanian. Amayak finished school in the shelter, taught there and later became a historian and professor at Yerevan State University. His son, Ruben’s father, was a well-known professor of architecture, his aunt was an expert on Shakespeare, Ruben himself a businessman, his sister a well known songwriter and composer.

Ruben Vardanian and his team toured all the major centers of the Armenian diaspora for several years, discussing the project. Preparations for the launch began in the summer of 2014. 100 Lives includes three areas:

- Preserving the past – digitization of archival materials, collecting and publishing the stories of the people who survived the genocide and their rescuers – Americans, Danes, Norwegians, Swiss, French, Russian, and many others.

- Establishment of the Aurora Prize annual international humanitarian award, which will be given to people who make efforts to save the lives in our time, those who risk their own lives to help others survive. The award is named in honor of Arshaluys Martikian, who, as a child, witnessed the atrocities committed during the genocide, including the murder of her father and brothers. She was rescued by the Russian army and later ended up in the United States, taking the name Aurora Mardiganian. Aurora dedicated her life to humanitarian assistance and played a huge role in making the Armenian genocide known to people. The prize will be awarded annually on April 24 in Yerevan, starting next year. Winners will receive an award of $100,000 and the right to disburse of a grant of $1 million to organizations that inspired their activities.

- Gratitude initiatives for organizations and communities that played an important role in the rescue of the Armenians a century ago. One of the first such initiatives is the allocation of 100 scholarships to study at UWC Dilijan College for children from countries where armed conflicts are underway – Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.