Yuri Andreyevich Zhdanov was born on August 20, 1919 in Tver. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1941 with a degree in organic chemistry and served with the Red Army during World War II. He received a Ph.D. in 1948.
He married Svetlana Alliluyeva in the spring of 1949 "as a matter of hard common sense but without any special love or affection". Joseph Stalin respected the Zhdanov family and had always hoped the 2 families would be linked in marriage. They soon divorced in 1952. They had a daughter Yekaterina ("Katya") in 1950.
He joined Rostov University in 1953, becoming a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and eventually Rector of the University. He was the author of numerous papers on organic chemistry.
He died on 19 December 2006 in Rostov-on-Don.