Anastas Mikoyan: Wikis


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Anastas Mikoyan

In the GDR, 1954.

In office

First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union
In office

In office

Born November 25, 1895(1895-11-25)
Sanahin, Yelizavetpol Governorate, Russian Empire
Died October 21, 1978 (aged 82)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Armenian
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Spouse(s) Ashkhen Mikoyan (née Tumanyan)
Children Sergo, Stepan, Vano, Vladimir1
Occupation Commissar, statesman
1 Vladimir was killed in the fighting during the Battle of Stalingrad.

Anastas Mikoyan (Armenian: Անաստաս Հովհաննեսի Միկոյան, Anastas Hovhannesi Mikoyan; Russian: Анаста́с Ива́нович Микоя́н, Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan; November 25 [O.S. November 13] 1895 – October 21, 1978) was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the Stalin and Khrushchev years. Mikoyan was an early convert of the Bolshevik cause. He supported Stalin after Vladimir Lenin's death created a power vacuum. During Stalin's reign, he was awarded with several high governmental posts including Minister of Trade. After Stalin's death, he backed Nikita Khrushchev and his de-stalinization policy.

He made several key trips to communist Cuba and the United States, acquiring an important stature in the international scene. In 1964, Khrushchev was forced to step down in a coup that brought Leonid Brezhnev to power. Mikoyan's influence was retained under Brezhnev as he was appointed Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1964 until his retirement in 1965. During his tenure under Khrushchev, he was the second most powerful man in the Soviet Union.[1] Nicknamed the survivor, a popular saying about him in Russian went, "From Illich [Lenin] to Illich [Leonid Illich Brezhnev]...without accident or stroke!"[2] One veteran Soviet official described his political career in the following manner: "The rascal was able to walk through Red Square on a rainy day without an umbrella [and] without getting wet. He could dodge the raindrops."[2]




Early life

Anastas Mikoyan was born in the village of Sanahin, then a part of the Yelizavetpol Governorate (today a part of Alaverdi in Armenia's Lori Province) in 1895. His father, Hovhannes, was a carpenter and his mother was a rug weaver. He had one brother, Artem Ivanovich Mikoyan, who would go on to become the co-founder and one of the primary designers of the Soviet MiG military aircraft. Mikoyan received his education at the Nersisyan Theological seminary in Tiflis and the Gevorkian Theological Seminary in Echmiadzin.[3] Religion, however, played an increasingly insignificant role in his life, as he would later remark that his continued studies in theology drew him closer to atheism: "I had a very clear feeling that I didn't believe in God and that I had in fact received a certificate in materialist uncertainty; the more I studied religious subjects, the less I believed in God."[4] At school, he took several courses on liberalism and socialism, which brought him closer to the leftist revolutionary movements in Russia.

Political beginnings

At the age of twenty, he formed a workers soviet in Echmiadzin. In 1915, Mikoyan formally joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (later known as the Bolshevik Party) and became a leader of the revolutionary movement in the Caucasus.[3] His interactions with Soviet revolutionaries led him to Baku, where he became the co-editor for the Armenian language newspaper Sotsyal-Demokrat and later on for the Russian-language paper Izvestia Bakinskogo Soveta.[3] After the February 1917 revolution, which toppled the Tsarist government, Mikoyan and other Bolsheviks fought against anti-Bolshevik elements in the Caucasus.

Mikoyan was made a commissar in the newly formed Red Army and continued to fight in Baku against anti-Bolshevik forces. He was wounded in this fighting and was noted for saving the life of fellow future Party member, Sergo Ordzhonikidze.[4] Afterwards, he continued his Party work, and was one of the co-founders of the Baku soviet in 1919 He and 26 other commissars fled Baku and were captured by the Transcaspian Government. Known as the Baku 26, all twenty-six commissars were executed with the exception of Mikoyan, the circumstances of his survival shrouded in mystery.[5]

Politburo member

The Caucasus trio, Mikoyan, Stalin and Ordzhonikidze.

Mikoyan supported Stalin in the power struggle that followed Lenin's death and was appointed to the Central Committee in 1923. He went on to become People's Commissar for External and Internal Trade in 1926, and imported ideas from the West, such as the manufacture of canned goods.[3] In 1935, he was elected to the Politburo, and was among one of the first Soviet leaders to pay goodwill trips to the United States in order to boost economic cooperation. Mikoyan spent three months in the United States, learning about its food industry. It was in fact Mikoyan who introduced American hamburgers and ice cream to Soviet Union.[6]

World War II and Destalinization

He was responsible for organizing the transport of food and supplies during the Second World War. His son Vladimir, a pilot in the Red Air Force, was killed in combat when he was shot down over Stalingrad. In 1942, he became a member of the State Defense Committee and for his war efforts, was decorated with a Hero of Socialist Labor in 1943. In 1946, Mikoyan became the vice chairman of the Council of Ministers.

Shortly before Stalin's death, Mikoyan, Georgy Malenkov, and several other Party leaders were being considered for a new purge by Stalin. This, however, never came to fruition as Stalin died in 1953 before he could put any plan into motion.[4] Mikoyan originally argued in favor of keeping Stalin's right hand man, Lavrenty Beria, from punishment but later gave in to popular support among Party members for his arrest. He remained in the government after Stalin's death, in the post of minister of trade, under Malenkov. He supported Khrushchev in the power struggle to succeed Stalin, and was made First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union in recognition of his services.

Mikoyan, far right, sitting next to Otto Grotewohl in Berlin in 1954.

In 1956, Mikoyan helped Khrushchev organize the Secret Speech which was delivered to the 20th Party Congress, denouncing Stalin's personality cult.[7] In October of that year, he was sent to Hungary to gather information on the developing crisis caused by the revolution against the communist government there. Together with Mikhail Suslov, Mikoyan traveled in an armored personnel carrier to Budapest, due to the shooting on the streets. He sent a telegram to Moscow reporting his impressions of the situation. "We had the impression that Ernő Gerő especially, but the other comrades as well, are exaggerating the strength of the opponent and underestimating their own strength," he and Suslov wrote.[8] Mikoyan strongly opposed the decision by Khrushchev and the Politburo to use Soviet troops, believing it would destroy the Soviet Union's international reputation, instead arguing for "military intimidation" and economic pressure to be applied to Hungary's government.[9] The crushing of the revolution by Soviet forces nearly led to Mikoyan's resignation.[10]

Foreign diplomat

In 1957, Mikoyan refused to back an attempt by Malenkov and Molotov to remove Khrushchev from power, thus securing his role as one of Khrushchev's closest allies. His motivation for backing Khrushchev was because of his strong support for de-Stalinization and his belief that a triumph by the plotters might have given way to purges similar to the ones in the 1930s.[11] During Khruschchev's reign, he continued to hold numerous other posts in the field of trade, and made a number of state visits to the U.S., Japan, and Mexico. He also retained the title of First Deputy Premier.

Mikoyan continued to hold moderate views on the Cold War and was unhappy with Khrushchev's brinkmanship over Berlin in the Checkpoint Charlie Crisis of 1961 and over Khrushchev's walkout from the 1960 Paris Summit over the U-2 Crisis of 1960, which he believed kept tension in the cold war high for another fifteen years. However, throughout this time, he remained Khrushchev's closest ally in the upper echelons of the Soviet leadership.


Mikoyan, right, with Cuban revolutionary leaders, Che Guevara, middle, and Fidel Castro.

The Soviet government welcomed the overthrow of Cuban president Fulgencio Batista by Fidel Castro's pro-communist rebels in 1959. Khrushchev realized the potential of a Soviet ally in the Caribbean and dispatched Mikoyan as one of the top diplomats in the region. He was the first Soviet official to visit the island country after the revolution, securing important trade agreements with the government including the export of oil from the Soviet Union in exchange for Cuban sugar.[12] His trip to Cuba also reminded him of his early childhood and Mikoyan "fell in love with the revolution over there."[13] During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Mikoyan was sent to Cuba where he persuaded Castro to remove the nuclear missiles and bombers provided by the Soviet Union.[14] It was during negotiations with Castro in Cuba where Mikoyan was informed about the death of his wife, Ashkhen, in Moscow.

The United States

Khrushchev's liberalization of hard liner polices led to an improvement in relations with the United States during the late 1950s. As Khrushchev's primary ambassador, Mikoyan visited the United States several times. Despite the volatility of the Cold War between the two superpowers, Mikoyan was received amiably among Americans, including Minnesota Democrat, Hubert Humphrey who characterized him as someone who showed a "flexibility of attitude" and New York governor Averell Harriman, who described him as a "less rigid" Soviet politician.[15] His visits in the United States also included luncheons with Senators from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and with United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower.[15]

His importance and stature was gauged from his attendance at the funeral of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963, representing the Soviet Union and reassuring President Lyndon Johnson that the Soviet Union had nothing to do with the assassination despite the involvement of Lee Harvey Oswald (Oswald had briefly defected to the Soviet Union before his involvement in the assassination of Kennedy).

Mikoyan's grave at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

Coup involvement and death

It is claimed by some that by 1964 Mikoyan had become convinced that Khrushchev had turned into a liability to the Party, and he was involved in the October 1964 coup that brought Leonid Brezhnev to power.[14] However, William Taubman disputes this, as Mikoyan was the only member of the Presidium (the name for the Politburo at this time) to defend Khrushchev. Mikoyan, however, did vote to force Khrushchev's retirement (so as in traditional Soviet style to make the vote unanimous). He was the only one of Khrushchev's colleagues to wish him well in his retirement, though he never spoke to him again. Mikoyan laid a wreath and sent a letter of condolence at Khrushchev's funeral in 1971.[16] His influence was retained under Brezhnev as Mikoyan was appointed Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1964 until 1965 and then retired.

He died on October 21, 1978, at the age of 82, from natural causes and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. Mikoyan received a total of six commendations of the Order of Lenin.[3]


  1. ^ "Anastas Mikoyan, Former Soviet Union president helped Krushchev stay in power." The Globe and Mail. October 23, 1978. Retrieved May 4, 2007
  2. ^ a b Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2004). Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf. p. 83n. ISBN 1-4000-7678-1. 
  3. ^ a b c d e (Armenian) Anon. «Միկոյան, Անաստաս Հովհաննեսի» (Anastas Hovhannesi Mikoyan). Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. vol. vii. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1981, p. 542.
  4. ^ a b c "Russia's Mikoyan: The Survivor." TIME Magazine. September 16, 1957. Retrieved on July 17, 2006.
  5. ^ Montefiore. The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 214.
  6. ^ Montefiore. The Court of the Red Tsar, pp. 192-193n. Other popular commodities Mikoyan is credited to introducing to the Soviet Union include corn flakes, popcorn, tomato juice, grapefruit, and corn on the cob.
  7. ^ Montefiore. The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 652.
  8. ^ See the Mikoyan-Suslov Report of October 24 in Johanna Granville, "Soviet Documents on the Hungarian Revolution, 24 October - 4 November 1956", Cold War International History Project Bulletin, no. 5 (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC), Spring, 1995, pp. 22-23, 29-34.
  9. ^ Békés, Csaba, Malcolm Byrne, M. János Rainer. The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003, p. xv. ISBN 963-9241-66-0.
  10. ^ Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, p. 312. ISBN 0-393-32484-2.
  11. ^ Laqueur, Walter (1990). Russia and Germany: A Century of Conflict. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. pp. 313. ISBN 0887383491. 
  12. ^ PBS. American Experience: Fidel Castro. Castro and the Cold War, p. 8
  13. ^ MacCauley, Martin. Who's Who in Russia Since 1900. London: Routledge, 1997, p. 144. ISBN 0-415-13898-1.
  14. ^ a b Ulam, Adam Bruno. Stalin: The Man and His Era. Boston: Beacon Press, 1987, p. 392. ISBN 0-8070-7005-X.
  15. ^ a b "Down to Hard Cases." TIME Magazine. January 26, 1959. Retrieved on October 12, 2006
  16. ^ Khrushchev, Nikita. Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, Volume 2: Reformer, 1945-1964. Trans. George Shriver: Pennsylvania State Press, 2006, p. 700. ISBN 0-2710-2332-5.

Further reading

  • Mikoyan, Anastas I. Memoirs of Anastas Mikoyan: The Path of Struggle, Vol 1. Trans. Katherine T. O’Connor and Diana L. Burgin. Madison, CT: Sphinx Press, 1988. ISBN 0-943071-04-6.
  • Mikoyan, Stepan A. Memoirs Of Military Test-Flying And Life With The Kremlin's Elite. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1999. ISBN 1-85310-916-9.
  • Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004. ISBN 1-4000-7678-1.
Political offices
Preceded by
Leonid Brezhnev
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
Succeeded by
Nikolai Podgorny


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Mikoyan (left) with Stalin and Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze

Anastas Hovhannesi Mikoyan (November 25 [O.S. November 13] 1895 - October 21, 1978) was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the Stalin and Khrushchev years. During Stalin's reign, he was awarded with several high governmental posts including Minister of Trade. After the dictator's death, he backed Nikita Khrushchev and his de-stalinization policy. Mikoyan's influence was retained under Brezhnev as he was appointed Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1964 until his retirement in 1965. During his tenure under Khrushchev, he was considered the second most powerful man in the Soviet Union. Mikoyan died on October 21, 1978, at the age of 82 from natural causes and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Russia. Mikoyan received a total of six commendations of the Order of Lenin. His brother, Artem Ivanovich Mikoyan, was the co-founder and one of the primary designers of the Soviet MiG military aircraft.


  • Stalin's methods did not help.
    • Quoted in "One man alone: Richard Nixon" - Page 243 - by Ralph de Toledano - 1969
  • The principle of collective leadership is elementary for a proletarian party and for a party of the Lenin type. Nevertheless, we must emphasize this old truth, because for about 20 years we have had practically no collective leadership; there flourished the cult of the individual which was condemned first by Marx and then by Lenin. And this, of course, could not but reflect negatively on the position of the party and its work.
    • Quoted in "The World almanac and book of facts" - Page 159 - Almanacs, American - 1869
  • Ordinary people abroad take a better attitude toward men who come as guests with their wives. And if they are accompanied by other members of their family, that disposes people even more favorably toward them. Therefore, I would propose that Khrushchev take Nina Petrovna with him and also include in the delegation other members of his family. This will be well received by ordinary Americans, and that would be better for us.
    • Quoted in "Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev" - Page 95 - by Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev - Heads of state - 2007
  • If Soviet Russia were to fire over this zone with nuclear weapons directed at France, or if, conversely, the Americans or the French were to fire over this territory with nuclear weapons towards Russia, the resulting radioactive clouds would be driven into this territory by the west winds from the one side, and the east winds from the other, and the Soviet Union could certainly not request the winds to keep to a specific path.
    • April 1958, to Konrad Adenauer. Quoted in "Konrad Adenauer" - Page 308 - by Hans-Peter Schwarz - History - 1995
  • If Stalin could only see us now, with the American Ambassador here, he'd turn in his grave.
    • Quoted in "MAYDAY: Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and the U-2 Affair" - Page 42 - by Michael R. Beschloss - Political Science - 1986
  • We are watching the Germans closely; we are not forgetting what they did to us during the war.
    • Quoted in "Soviet Foreign Policy Toward Western Europe" - by George Ginsburgs, Alvin Z. Rubinstein - Political Science - 1978 - Page 105
  • Like Lenin Comrade Stalin is a leader of a higher type. He is a mountain eagle, without fear in the fight, who boldly leads the bolshevik party on unexplored roads toward the total victory of Communism.
    • March 13, 1939. Quoted in "Facts on Communism" - Page 157 - by United States Congress - Communism - 1960
  • While Zinoviev is in the majority he is for iron discipline.... When he is in the minority... he is against it.
    • About Grigory Zinoviev. Quoted in "The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath" - Page 172 - by Michael Kort - History - 2001
  • All peoples enjoy freedom, and freedom for the development of their culture... There is no Jewish problem in the Soviet Union at all... I have many friends who are Jews.
    • January 1959. Quoted in "The Soviet Government and the Jews 1948-1967" - Page 66
  • We think we have got freedom of the press. When one millionaire has ten newspapers and ten million people have no newspapers—that is not freedom of the press.
    • January 26, 1959. Quoted in "Traveling With Mikoyan Quote By Quote" - Time Magazine
  • We are accused of all sorts of terrible things, of us wanting to undermine your market, of dumping and so forth. There was no such talk before, but when you had your recession, there were people who wanted to put the whole blame on the Russians. All these fables of us being such terrible devils are not well founded. We want to trade in earnest and well.
    • January 26, 1959. Quoted in "Traveling With Mikoyan Quote By Quote" - Time Magazine
  • One former member of [the antiparty] group [Molotov] became an ambassador. True, the country [Outer Mongolia] may not be large, but it is an ambassadorship. I do not want to mention names, but you have some former Secretaries of State. I do not know where they are today, but they are not ambassadors. A second member of the group [Kaganovich] is now head of the state asbestos trust. Is that punishment, to head up a big monopoly? ... It is better to confess to one's errors than to persist in them.
    • January 26, 1959. Quoted in "Traveling With Mikoyan Quote By Quote" - Time Magazine
  • We cannot, after all, ignore the fact that the cold war is being fostered from the U.S. No one will deny that American bases around our country are not being reduced; in fact they are being strengthened. All of this is bound to cause suspicion, and it is bound to cause the Soviet leaders to be cautious and vigilant.
    • January 26, 1959. Quoted in "Traveling With Mikoyan Quote By Quote" - Time Magazine
  • There are no U.S. flyers in our country. The bodies were handed over to the Americans. We have no other bodies of flyers or living flyers in the Soviet Union. If we had, why should we try to hide them?
    • January 26, 1959. Quoted in "Traveling With Mikoyan Quote By Quote" - Time Magazine

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