Ryzhkov, Nikolai Ivanovich

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(b. 1929), USSR prime minister under Gorbachev and a leading figure in economic reform.

Born in Donetsk Oblast, Nikolai Ryzhkov joined the Party in 1956 and graduated from the Ural Polytechnical Institute in Sverdlovsk in 1959. He spent his early career as an engineer at the Ordzhonikidze Heavy Machine-Building Institute and was named director in 1970. Following his successes in the Urals, Ryzhkov became involved in all-union economic matters.

Ryzhkov served as a deputy in the USSR Council of the Union (19741979) and a deputy in the USSR Council of Nationalities (19741984). Ryzhkov was first deputy chair of the USSR Ministry of Heavy and Transport Machine-Building (19751979) and later first deputy chair of the USSR State Planning Commission (Gosplan) (19791982). He became a full member of the CPSU Central Committee in 1981, chairing the Diplomatic Department (19821985) and later the USSR Council of Ministers (September 1985December 1990), making him the de facto Soviet prime minister. Ryzhkov was the chief administrator of the Soviet economy in the last half of the 1980s. He became a full Politburo member in April 1985 and chaired the Central Committee Commission that assisted victims of the 1988 Armenian earthquake. As the economy stalled, protests grew, and the Kremlin debated the Five-Hundred-Day Plan, Ryzhkov suffered a heart attack on December 25, 1990. He subsequently resigned, and Gorbachev replaced him with Valentin Pavlov.

Ryzhkov unsuccessfully ran against Boris Yeltsin for the Russian presidency in June 1991. He then assumed a variety of corporate positions, including chairman of the board of Tveruniversal Bank (19941995), chairman of the board of Prokhorovskoye Pole, and head of the Moscow Intellectual Business Club. He won a seat in the Russian State Duma in 1995 and 1999 as head of "Power to the People," a bloc aligned with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

See also: central committee; gorbachev, mikhail sergeyevich; gosplan; perestroika; politburo; prime minister


Goldman, Marshall. (1992). What went Wrong with Perestroika. New York: Norton.

Ann E. Robertson