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Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev
Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev (born December 2, 1923) is a Russian economist who was a Soviet governmental official in the 1980s and a member of the Politburo from 1987 to 1990. He is considered by many to be the intellectual father of glasnost and perestroika.
Yakovlev served as editor of several party publications and rose to the position of head of the CPSU's Department of Ideology and Propaganda from 1969 to 1973. In 1972 he took a bold stand by publishing an article critical of Russian chauvinism and Soviet anti-Semitism. As a result he was removed from his position and appointed as ambassador to Canada remaining at that post for a decade. In the early 1980s he accompanied Mikhael Gorbachev, who at the time was the Soviet official in charge of agriculture on his tour of Canada. The purpose of the visit was to tour Canadian farms and agricultural institutions in the hopes of taking lessons that could be applied in the Soviet Union, however, the two renewed their earlier friendship and, tentatively at first, began to discuss the need for liberalisation in the Soviet Union.
In an interview, Yakovlev recalled:
- At first we kind of sniffed around each other and our conversations didn't touch on serious issues. And then, verily, history plays tricks on one, we had a lot of time together as guests of the Minister of Agriculture in Canada who, himself, was too late for the reception because he was stuck with some striking farmers somewhere. So we took a long walk on that Minister's farm and, as it often happens, both of us suddenly were just kind of flooded and let go. I somehow, for some reason, threw caution to the wind and started telling him about what I considered to be utter stupidities in the area of foreign affairs, especially about those SS-20 missiles that were being stationed in Europe and a lot of other things. And he did the same thing. We were completely frank. He frankly talked about the problems in the internal situation in Russia. He was saying that under these conditions, the conditions of dictatorship and absence of freedom, the country would simply perish. So it was at that time, during our three-hour conversation, almost as if our heads were knocked together, that we poured it all out and during that three-hour conversation we actually came to agreement on all our main points. 
Two weeks after the visit, as a result of Gorbachev's interventions, Yakovlev was recalled from Canada and appointed to head the Academy of Sciences Institute of International Relations and the World Economy in Moscow.
When Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985, Yakovlev became a senior advisor, helped shape Soviet foreign policy and accompanied him on his five summit meetings with United States President Ronald Reagan. Domestically, he argued in favour of the programs that became known as glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) and played a key role in executing those policies.
He was promoted to the Politburo in 1987 but by 1990 he had become the focus of attacks by conservatives in the party opposed to liberalisation. As the conservatives gained strength his position became more tenuous until he was ultimately removed from the Politburo and was expelled from the Party two days before the August Coup in 1991. During the coup Yakovlev joined the democratic opposition against it.
In the years following the fall of the Soviet Union, Yakovlev has written and lectured extensively on history, politics and economics. In 2002, acting as head of the Presidential Committee for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression, he was present at the announcement of the release of a CD detailing names and short biographies of the victims of Soviet purges. He continues to advocate taking responsibility for the past crimes of communism and is critical of President Putin's restrictions on democracy
See Yakovlev for other individuals with the same surname
- Alexander N. Yakovlev and Abel G. Aganbegyan, Perestroika, 1989, Scribner (1989), trade paperback, ISBN 0684191172
- Alexander Yakovlev, USSR the Decisive Years, First Glance Books (1991), hardcover, ISBN 1550134108
- Alexander Yakovlev and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, The Fate of Marxism in Russia, Yale University Press (1993), hardcover, ISBN 0300053657; trade paperback, Lightning Source, UK, Ltd. (17th November 2004) ISBN 0300105401
- Alexander N. Yakovlev, forward by Paul Hollander, translated by Anthony Austin, Century of Violence in Soviet Russia, Yale University Press (2002), hardcover, 254 pages, ISBN 0300087608; trade paperback, Yale University Press (2002), 272 pages, ISBN 0300103220
- Alexander N. Yakovlev, Digging Out: How Russia Liberated Itself from the Soviet Union, Encounter Books (December 1, 2004), hardcover, 375 pages, ISBN 1594030553
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