Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Ligachev, Yegor Kuzmich (1920–)

Soviet Communist Party politician, first a supporter but later an outspoken critic of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policies. Born on 29 November 1920 in Dubinkino, Siberia, Yegor Ligachev pursued what was viewed as a model career in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). He graduated from the prestigious Institute of Aviation in Moscow in 1939, joined the CPSU in 1944, and held a number of party posts in the Novosibirsk area before moving to Moscow. He became deputy chief of propaganda in 1961 and deputy chief of party personnel in 1964.

Four years later, Ligachev returned to Siberia, probably because he was unwilling to collaborate with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. In 1976, however, Ligachev was granted full membership in the CPSU's Central Committee. In 1983 Yuri Andropov, new general secretary of the party, recalled Ligachev to Moscow. In 1985 Andropov's successor, Konstantin Chernenko, nominated Ligachev to the Politburo. He became a full member only weeks after Chernenko's death.

In 1985 Gorbachev became CPSU general secretary and announced his reform program, perestroika. Ligachev initially endorsed Gorbachev's efforts by chairing Politburo meetings, thus serving as Gorbachev's de facto second-in-command. But Ligachev refused to back the reformers' quest for what he considered to be radical changes. He thus played a major role in the dismissal from the Politburo of Boris Yeltsin, who had pushed for an even faster pace to perestroika. In September 1988, when Ligachev publicly condemned efforts to reform the party apparatus, Gorbachev forced the Politburo to expel him from office. Ligachev then became widely identified with the orthodox, communist critique of Gorbachev and perestroika, which relegated Ligachev to the far fringes of Russian politics.

Frank Beyersdorf


Further Reading
Harris, Jonathan. "Ligachev on Glasnost and Perestroika," Carl Beck Papers on Russian and East European Studies, No. 706. Pittsburgh, PA: University Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, 1989.; Ligachev, Yegor. Inside Gorbachev's Kremlin. New York: Pantheon, 1993.
 

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