Mikhail Nikolayev was born on 13 November 1937 in Oktyomtsy, Ordzhonikidze District, USSR. He started working in 1961.
From 1961 to 1975 he worked at Komsomol and Communist Party bodies of the Yakut ASSR.
Since 1975: Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Yakut ASSR.
From 1979 to 1985 Minister of Agriculture of the Yakut ASSR.
From 1985 to 1989 Secretary of the Yakut CPSU Obkom, responsible for agricultural sector of the Yakut Republic. This was the time when the northern republic took a leading position in agricultural production in RSFSR.
In December 1989 Mr. Nikolaev was elected Chairman of Presidium of Supreme Council of the Yakut Republic; in 1990 he became Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
1991–2002: President of the Republic of Sakha.
Since 2016 Mikhail Nikolayev has been Counselor of State of Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
In 2002, for his outstanding achievements in national consolidation of Sakha Republic, a significant contribution to social and economic development and strengthening of international relations he was awarded the title ‘Honorary Citizen of Sakha Republic (Yakutia)’.
He has the following awards: Order of the Red Banner of Labour, Order of Friendship of Peoples, Order for Merit to the Fatherland 4th, 3rd and 2nd class. The Deputy of the Supreme Council of the Yakut ASSR of the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th convocations, People’s Deputy of the 1st Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR, member of the Russian Writers’ Union, Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the winner of the International Prize For contribution to biodiversity conservation in Russia.