Yanayev, Gennady Ivanovich

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(b. 1937), USSR vice president, coup plotter.

Gennady Yanayev graduated from Gorky Agricultural Institute in 1959 and earned a history degree from the All-Union Law Institute in 1967. Before joining the Party in 1962, Yanayev worked in the agro-industry sector. After securing Party membership, he soon began working in the Gorky Komsomol organization (19631968). He was promoted to chairman of the USSR Committee of Youth Organizations (19681980) and later to deputy chair of the Presidium of the Union of Soviet Friendship Societies (19801986). He switched to working in the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions in 1986, becoming chair in 1990.

Yanayev rose following the Twenty-eighth CPSU Party Congress. In July 1990 he was named to the Central Committee and Politburo and given the Central Committee foreign policy portfolio. Following the creation of the Soviet presidency in late 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev nominated Yanayev as his vice president on December 27. The Congress of People's Deputies approved him on the second ballot. He then resigned from his Central Committee and Politburo posts effective January 31, 1991.

Yanayev disagreed with Gorbachev's reforms and was the public face of the group that plotted the abortive coup of August 1921, 1991. He went on international television to claim that, as vice president, he had assumed the acting presidency of the Soviet Union. His quivering hands, constant sniffling, and stilted delivery suggested his lack of convictionor his inebriation. Along with Yeltsin's appearance atop a tank, Yanayev and his shaking hands became a central image of the putsch. Yanayev was arrested immediately following the coup's collapse and was amnestied by the Duma in February 1994. He went on to become a pension fund consultant.

See also: august 1991 putsch


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

Remnick, David. (1993). Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: Random House.

Ann E. Robertson