Yakovlev – Architect of Perstroika: the Quiet Man who Helped Change the World

Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev (1923-2005) was a Soviet politician and historian. During the 1980s he was a member of the Politburo and Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The chief of party ideology, the same position as that previously held by Mikhail Suslov, he was called the ‘godfather of glasnost’, as he is considered to be the intellectual force behind Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform programme of glasnost’ and perestroika. Yakovlev was the first Soviet politician to acknowledge the existence of the secret protocols of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact with Nazi Germany in 1989. When Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985, Yakovlev became a senior advisor, helping to shape Soviet foreign policy and accompanying Gorbachev on his five summit meeting with United States President Ronald Reagan. He played a key role in executing the policies of Gorbachev’s reforms, and our speaker will tell us how.

Janet Gunn studied Russian and French at university, and then joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a Research Analyst, specialising for more than thirty-five years on the Soviet Union and its successor states, Central Europe and the Western Balkans, and serving in British Embassies in Romania, Bulgaria, the USSR/Russia, Ukraine and Tajikistan. Since 2006, she has worked in European Union post-conflict stabilisation missions in Ukraine, Moldova and Kosovo, and is currently involved with the BEARR Trust, and undertakes archive work in the FCO. She continues to follow political developments in these regions, and for over ten years has taken a close interest in the life and work of the late AN Yakovlev, whom she met in 2001.

Tickets: £7, conc. £5 (for GB-Russia Society members)

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