Nikonov graduated from the History Department of Moscow State University in 1978 and has been studying the history of the U.S. Republican Party after World War II. He has been involved in Soviet and Russian politics since the 1970s, first as a local Komsomol leader, later in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and as a member of Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin's staff. In 1993 Nikonov was elected to the State Duma. In 2005 he published an early biography of Molotov (in Russian). According to some, Nikonov as a biographer of his own grandfather cannot be regarded as an objective source. He personally recognized this fact in the interview. In the same interview Nikonov is proud that Molotov was a wise and coolly ruthless man, giving him the right to be listed together with Timur (by the words of Winston Churchill). In 2005-2007 he was a member of the Public Chamber of Russia. In 2011 was once again elected to the State Duma and in 2013 became the Chairman of the Education Committee.
Nikonov received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Edinburgh in July 2012.
- Yale Richmond. Cultural Exchange & the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-271-02532-8. P. 173.
- Lynn Berry. Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact seen in new light. Associated Press, August 22, 2009
- Answers on the questions of journalist from the «Родная газета» (English translation).
- "Vyacheslav Nikonov: Education Is an Inertial System, and Sharp Changes Are Dangerous".