Yakovlev, Aleksandr Nikolaevich

(1923– )
   A decorated veteran of World War II, Yakovlev went into Communist Party work after recovering from severe wounds. In 1970 he was purged from his post in the Central Committee and posted to Canada as ambassador because of his opposition to hardline Russophile and anti-Semitic attitudes within the Leonid Brezhnev leadership. During his long exile in Canada, Yakovlev met Mikhail Gorbachev and influenced his attitude toward reform. From 1985 to 1989, Yakovlev played a crucial role in the Politburo as the architect of glasnost and perestroika. Yakovlev was a bete noire for traditionalists like KGB Chair Vladimir Kryuchkov, who publicly excoriated him as an American agent. Bowing to pressure, Gorbachev forced Yakovlev out of the leadership in late 1990.
   Yakovlev was lucky that the 1991 August putsch failed; he certainly would have been prosecuted had it succeeded. Following the collapse of the system he served but in the end despised, Yakovlev took on the mission of rehabilitating those repressed during the Soviet era. His books, which have been published in the United States and Russia, have been the best short studies of Soviet repression. Conservatives and anti-Semites continue to attack him; he has been labeled a secret Zionist whose real name in Yakobson, and Kryuchkov in retirement continues to blame him for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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