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Nikolai Ryzhkov
Николай Рыжков

In office
27 September 1985 – 14 January 1991
Preceded by Nikolai Tikhonov
Succeeded by Valentin Pavlov

Born 28 September 1929 (1929-09-28) (age 80)
Donetsk Oblast, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian

Nikolai Ivanovich Ryzhkov (Russian: Николай Иванович Рыжков, Nikolaj Ivanovič Ryžkov; born September 28, 1929) was a Soviet official and, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, a Russian politician. He served as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR (or Premier of the Soviet Union) from September 27, 1985 to January 14, 1991 during the era of glasnost and perestroika under Mikhail Gorbachev.

A technocrat, Ryzhkov rose through the ranks first as a welder at the Sverdlovsk Uralmash Plant and then as chief engineer and, in 1970-1975, manager of the Uralmash Production Amalgamation, one of the largest Soviet companies.

He joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1956 and became first deputy minister of heavy and transport machine building in 1975. He became first deputy chairman of the Soviet planning agency, Gosplan, in 1979. In 1981 he was elected to the Central Committee of the CPSU. On November 22, 1982, after Leonid Brezhnev's death and Yuri Andropov's rise to power, Central Committee Secretary Kirilenko was forced to retire and his place was taken by Ryzhkov, who was also put in charge of the Central Committee's Economics Department. After Mikhail Gorbachev's elevation to the post of the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, Ryzhkov was made a member of the ruling Politburo on April 23, 1985. 5 months later, on September 27, 1985, the octogenarian Soviet premier Nikolai Tikhonov was sent into retirement and Ryzhkov took his place.


Ryzhkov supported Gorbachev's attempt to revive and restructure the Soviet economy through decentralising planning (see central planning) and introducing new technology. However, he resisted Gorbachev's later attempts to introduce market mechanisms into the Soviet economy. When the Politburo was restructured at the XVIIIth Congress of the Communist Party in July 1990, all government officials except Gorbachev were excluded from it and Ryzhkov lost his Politburo seat by default. In December 1990 he was hospitalized with a heart condition (rumored to have been invented to cushion the blow) and, while he was recovering, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union adopted a new law replacing the Council of Ministers with a new Cabinet of Ministers. The law was passed on December 26, 1990, but the new structure was not put in place until January 14, 1991 when Valentin Pavlov took over as prime minister.

After recovering in early 1991, Ryzhkov was the Communist candidate in the first election of the President of the Russian Federation (not to be confused with the President of the Soviet Union) on June 12, 1991. He won less than 17% of the vote to Boris Yeltsin's 57% and retired from politics, spending the next few years working in banking and investment industries. In December 1995 he was elected to the new Russian Duma from the Power to the People block and in 1996 became a leader of the left wing Peoples' Power faction in the Duma. In the late 1990s he participated in the Communist-led alliance of leftists and nationalists known as People's Patriotic Union of Russia.


Political offices
Preceded by
Nikolai Tikhonov
Premier of the Soviet Union
27 September 1985–14 January 1991
Succeeded by
Valentin Pavlov


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