Born in Moscow on September 26, 1940. Graduated from the Eastern Languages Institute of Lomonosov Moscow State University, has a PhD in history, is a professor and academician of the Maimonides State Jewish Academy of Sciences (Moscow) and the Shimon Dubnov Academy of History and Culture of Hews of Ukraine (Kiev), and is the author of over 150 scientific publications.
In the middle of the 1970's, Michael Chlenov became one of the founders of the so-called "culturnik direction" in the independent Jewish movement. In the final decade of Soviet power, he was an active member of the Jewish movement and one of its leaders, and was persecuted by the authorities and the KGB.
In 1989, at the First Congress of USSR Jews in Moscow, he was elected the Co-Chairman of the Council of the Confederation of Jewish Organizations and Communities, and in 19992 he was elected President of the Federation of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Russia (Vaad).
Member of the Presidium of the World Zionist Organization, and in 1998 - member of the Board of Directors of the JAFI Agency.
In 2002, elected Secretary General at the founding meeting of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, which took place in Moscow (Russia).