Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan

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(18951978), Communist Party leader and government official.

Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan occupied the summits of Soviet political and governmental life for more than five decades. One of Stalin's comrades, he was a political survivor. Armenian by birth, Mikoyan joined the Bolsheviks in 1915, playing a leading role in the Caucasus during the civil war (19181920). In 1922 he was elected to the Communist Party's Central Committee, by which time he was already working confidentially for Josef Stalin. After Vladimir Lenin's death (1924) he staunchly supported Stalin's struggle against the Left Opposition. His loyalty was rewarded in 1926 when he became the youngest commissar and Politburo member. Appointed commissar of food production in 1934, he introduced major innovations in this area. By 1935 he was a full member of the Politburo. While not an aggressive advocate of the Great Terror (19371938), Mikoyan was responsible for purges in his native Armenia. In 1942, after the German invasion, he was appointed to the State Defense Committee, with responsibility for military supplies. After Stalin's death (1953) he proved a loyal ally of Nikita Khrushchev, the only member of Stalin's original Politburo to support him in his confrontation with the Stalinist Anti-Party Group (1957). Mikoyan went on to play a crucial role in the Cuban missile crisis (1962), mediating between Khrushchev, U.S. president John F. Kennedy, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whom he persuaded to accept the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. He was appointed head of government in July 1964, three months before signing the decree dismissing Khrushchev as party first secretary. Under Leonid Brezhnev he gradually relinquished his roles in party and government in favor of writing his memoirs, finally retiring in 1975.

See also: anti-party group; armenia and armenians; cuban missile crisis; left opposition; purges, the great


Medvedev, Roy. (1984). All Stalin's Men. (1984). Garden City, NY: Anchor Press.

Taubman, William; Khrushchev, Sergei; and Gleason, Abbott, eds. (2000). Nikita Khrushchev. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Roger D. Markwick

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