Anastas Mikoyan : biography
Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan ( Anastas Hovhannesi Mikoyan; ; 13 November (25 November) 1895 – 21 October 1978) was an Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the mandates of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev. Dubbed the Vicar of Bray of politics, he was the only Soviet politician who managed to remain at the highest levels of power within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as that power oscillated between the Central Committee and the Politburo, from the latter days of Lenin's rule, throughout the eras of Stalin and Khrushchev, until his peaceful (albeit forced) retirement after the first months of Brezhnev's rule. Mikoyan became an early convert to the Bolshevik cause. Mikoyan was a strong supporter of Stalin during the immediate post-Lenin years. During Stalin's rule, Mikoyan held several high governmental posts, including that of Minister of Foreign Trade. By the end of Stalin's rule Mikoyan was starting to lose favour with him, and in 1949, Mikoyan lost his long-standing post of foreign trade minister. At the 19th Party Congress Stalin even attacked Mikoyan viciously. When Stalin died in 1953, Mikoyan again took a leading role in policy-making. He backed Khrushchev and his de-Stalinization policy, and became First Deputy Premier under Khrushchev. Mikoyan's position under Khrushchev made him the second most powerful figure in the Soviet Union at the time.
Mikoyan made several key trips to communist Cuba and to the United States, acquiring an important stature on the international diplomatic scene, especially with his skill in exercising soft power to further Soviet interests. In 1964 Khrushchev was forced to step down in a coup that brought Leonid Brezhnev to power. Mikoyan served as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the nominal Head of State, from 1964 until his forced retirement in 1965.
Early life and career
Mikoyan was born to Armenian parents in the village of Sanahin, then a part of the Yelizavetpol Governorate of the Russian Empire (presently a part of Alaverdi in Armenia's Lori Province) in 1895. His father, Hovhannes, worked as a carpenter and his mother was a rug weaver. He had one younger brother, Artem Ivanovich Mikoyan, who would go on to become the co-founder of the MiG aviation design bureau which became one of the primary design bureaus of fast jets in Soviet military aviation.
Mikoyan received his education at the Nersisyan Theological seminary in Tiflis and the Gevorkian Theological Seminary in Echmiadzin. Religion, however, played an increasingly insignificant role in his life. 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." Before becoming active in politics Mikoyan had already dabbled in liberal and socialist politics.
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. His interactions with Soviet revolutionaries led him to Baku, where he became the co-editor for the Armenian-language newspaper Sotsyal-Demokrat and later for the Russian-language paper Izvestia Bakinskogo Soveta. During this time, he was said to have robbed a bank in Tiflis with TNT and had his nose broken in street fighting.
After the February 1917 revolution, which toppled the tsarist government, Mikoyan and other Bolsheviks fought against anti-Bolshevik elements in the Caucasus.
Mikoyan became a commissar in the newly-formed Red Army and continued to fight in Baku against anti-Bolshevik forces. He was wounded in the fighting and was noted for saving the life of fellow Party-member Sergo Ordzhonikidze. Afterwards, he continued his Party work, becoming one of the co-founders of the Baku Soviet, which lasted until 1918, when he and twenty-five other commissars fled Baku and were captured by the Transcaspian Government. Known as the Baku 26, all the commissars were executed with the sole exception of Mikoyan; the circumstances of his survival are shrouded in mystery. In February 1919 Mikoyan returned to Baku and resumed his activities there, helping to establish the Baku Bureau of the Caucasus Regional Committee (Kraikom).
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