Anastas Hovhannesi Mikoyan (Armenian: Անաստաս Հովհաննէսի Միկոյան) (November 25, 1895 - October 21, 1978) was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the Stalin and Khrushchev years. In the Soviet Union he is primarily known as Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan (Анаста́с Ива́нович Микоя́н).
Anastas Mikoyan joined the Bolshevik Party and fought in Baku during the early 1900s against anti-Bolshevik figures. He supported Joseph Stalin after Vladimir Lenin's death created a power vacuum. During Stalin's reign, he was awarded with several high governmental posts including Minister of Trade. After the dictator's death, he backed Nikita Khrushchev and his de-stalinization policy. He made several key trips to communist Cuba and the United States, acquiring an important stature in the international scene. In 1964, Khrushchev was forced to step down in a coup that brought Leonid Brezhnev to power. Mikoyan's influence was retained under Brezhnev as he was appointed Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1964 until his retirement in 1965.
It was noted that, during his tenure under Khrushchev, he was the second most powerful man in the Soviet Union. Mikoyan died on October 21, 1978, at the age of 82 from natural causes and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Russia.
With the advent of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Mikoyan was made a commissar in the newly formed Red Army and continued to fight in Baku against anti-Bolshevik forces. He was wounded in this fighting and was noted for saving the life of fellow future Party member, Sergo Ordzhonikidze. In the same year, he was arrested by interventionist British troops in Baku, but was able to escape. Afterwards, he continued his Party work, and was one of the co-founders of the Baku soviet in 1919.
Shortly before Stalin's death, Mikoyan, Georgy Malenkov, and several other Party leaders were being considered for a new purge by Stalin, however this never came to fruition as the General Secretary died in 1953 before he could put the plan into motion. Mikoyan originally argued in favor of keeping Stalin's right hand man, Lavrenty Beria, from punishment but later gave in to popular support among Party members for his arrest. He remained in the government after Stalin's death, in the post of minister of trade, under Malenkov. He supported Khrushchev in the power struggle to succeed Stalin, and was made First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union in recognition of his services.
In 1956, Mikoyan was one of the main organizers of Khrushchev's Secret Speech delivered to the 20th Party Congress, denouncing the personality cult held by Stalin. Mikoyan was sent to Hungary in October 1956 to resolve the crisis caused by the revolution against the communist government there. He strongly opposed the decision by Khrushchev and the Politburo to use Soviet troops believing it would destroy the Soviet Union's international reputation, instead arguing for "military intimidation" and economic pressure to be applied towards Hungary's government. The crushing of the revolution by Soviet forces nearly led to Mikoyan's resignation.
Mikoyan continued to hold moderate views on the Cold War and was unhappy with Khrushchev's brinkmanship over Berlin in the Checkpoint Charlie Crisis of 1961 and over Khrushchev's walk out from the 1960 Paris Summit over the U-2 Crisis of 1960, which he believed kept tension in the cold war high for another fifteen years. However, throughout this time, he remained Khrushchev's closest ally in the upper echelons of the Soviet leadership.
The Soviet government welcomed the overthrow of Cuban president Fulgencio Batista by Fidel Castro's pro-communist rebels in 1959. Khrushchev realized the potential of a Soviet ally in the Caribbean and dispatched Mikoyan as one of the top diplomats in the region. He was the first Soviet official to visit the island country after the revolution, securing important trade agreements with the government including the export of oil from the Soviet Union in exchange for Cuban sugar. His trip to Cuba also reminded him of his early childhood and Mikoyan "fell in love with the revolution over there. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Mikoyan was sent to Cuba where he persuaded Castro to remove the nuclear missiles and bombers provided by the Soviet Union. It was during negotiations with Castro in Cuba where Mikoyan was informed about the untimely death of his wife, Anush, in Moscow.
His importance and stature was gauged from his attendance at the funeral of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963, representing the Soviet Union, reassuring President Lyndon Johnson that the Soviet Union had nothing to do with the assassination despite the involvement of Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald had briefly defected to the Soviet Union before his involvement in the assassination of Kennedy.
He died on October 21, 1978, at the age of 82 from natural causes and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Russia. Mikoyan received a total of six commendations of the Order of Lenin. His brother, Artem Ivanovich Mikoyan, was the co-founder and one of the primary designers of the Soviet MiG military aircraft.
His son, a test pilot, has written about both Artem Ivanovich and Anastas Mikoyan:
The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November by Sergo Mikoyan, Ed. Svetlana Savranskaya Mikoyan Archive Reveals Cuba a Near-Nuclear Power New Book Shows Crisis Unresolved until November 22, 1962
Oct 10, 2012; WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The following information was released by the National Security Archive (GWU): Edited by Svetlana Savranskaya...