Father of Perestroika Alexander Yakovlev Dies

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The head of the international foundation Democracy and architect of perestroika Alexander Yakovlev died on Tuesday in Moscow after a long illness. He was 81 years old. Yakovlev joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the 1940s. In 1987, he became a member of the Politburo (the party’s executive organ). He was among the reformers in the Soviet leadership and the ideologists behind perestroika, as well as being one of Mikhail Gorbachev’s senior advisors.

After the conservatives in the party gained strength, he was removed from the Politburo and expelled in 1991, two days before the August coup against Gorbachev. From 1998 he led the Commission for the Rehabilitation of Repression Victims, clearing the names of those persecuted under Soviet rule.

Yakovlev was a doctor of history and a corresponding member of the Soviet Union’s Academy of Sciences. From 1969 to 1973, he headed the party’s Department of Ideology and Propaganda. In 1972, he published an article criticizing Russian chauvinism and Soviet anti-Semitism. After that, he was removed from his post and appointed Russia’s ambassador to Canada where he served till 1983. From 1983 to 1985 he headed the Russian Institute of World Economics and International Relations.

Yakovlev did a lot to liberalize the Soviet media, helped publish banned books and materials under the policy known as as glasnost.

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