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Varennikov, Valentin Ivanovich


(b.1923), commander-in-chief of the Soviet Ground Forces; deputy minister of defense; General of the Army; Hero of the Soviet Union; member of the State Duma.

Valentin Krasnodar was born on December 13, 1923, in Krasnodar in the Kuban region of South Russia. He joined the Red Army in 1941 as an officer cadet and was commissioned in 1942. He took part in the defense of Stalingrad as an artillery officer and served in that capacity through the war to the assault on Berlin. Varennikov was a stand-bearer at the Victory Parade in Red Square in 1945. After the war he commanded artillery and infantry units. In 1954 he graduated from the Frunze Military Academy.

Varennikov advanced in the army leadership and graduated from the Voroshilov Military Academy of the General Staff in 1967. During the late 1960s and early 1970s he commanded an army and served as deputy commander of the Soviet Group of Forces in Germany and as commander of the Carpathian Military District. In 1979 he was head of the Operations Directorate of the General Staff, which planned the military intervention in Afghanistan. In 1984 he assumed the post of deputy chief of the Soviet General Staff with responsibility for direct oversight of operations in Afghanistan; he later oversaw the withdrawal of Soviet forces.

In January 1989 Varennikov was made commandor of Soviet Ground Forces. In August 1991 he was an active participant in the conspiracy to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and prevent the proclamation of a new union treaty. During the attempted coup Varennikov was in Kiev. Arrested and jailed when the coup collapsed, Varennikov refused to accept an amnesty when it was offered in March 1994. Later that year, the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court ruled that he was not guilty of treason. In December 1995 he ran for election to the State Duma as a candidate from the Communist Party and won. He won re-election in 2000 and serves as chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

See also: august 1991 putsch; military, soviet and post-soviet


Gorbachev, Mikhail. (1991). The August Coup: The Truth and the Lessons. New York: Harper Collins.

Kipp, Jacob W. (1989). "A Biographical Sketch on General of the Army Valentin Ivanovich Varennikov." Ft. Leavenworth, KS: Foreign Military Studies Office.

Odom, William E. (1998). The Collapse of the Soviet Military. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Jacob W. Kipp

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