Mikhail Zimyanin

Mikhail Vasilyevich Zimyanin (21 November 1914 – 1 May 1995) (Russian: Михаил Васильевич Зимянин), (Belarusian: Міхаіл Васільевіч Зімянін) was a Soviet politician and diplomat who served as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pravda, the official publication of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, from 1965 to 1976. Afterwards, he was appointed to the party's secretariat. He retired on 28 January 1987 for "health reasons".[1]

Mikhail Zimyanin
Михаил Зимянин
Editor-in-chief of Pravda
In office
21 July 1965 – 5 March 1976
Preceded byAlexey Rumyantsev
Succeeded byViktor Afanasyev
Ambassador of the Soviet Union to Czechoslovakia
In office
20 February 1960 – 8 April 1965
Preceded byIvan Grishin
Succeeded byStepan Chervonenko
Ambassador of the Soviet Union to Vietnam
In office
21 January 1956 – 3 January 1958
Preceded byAleksandr Lavrischev
Succeeded byLeonid Sokolov
Member of the 25th, 26th, 27th Secretariat
In office
5 March 1976 – 28 January 1987
Full member of the 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th Central Committee
In office
8 April 1966 – 25 April 1989
Personal details
Born(1914-11-21)21 November 1914
Vitebsk, Russian Empire
Died1 May 1995(1995-05-01) (aged 80)
Moscow, Russia
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union (1939–1989)
ProfessionCivil servant


Mikhail Zimyanin was a Belarusian, from a working class family, who began work in a locomotive repair deport in 1929. He served in the Red Army in 1936-38, and graduated from a teaching college in 1939.[2] In 1940, he was appointed First Secretary of the Belorussian (Belarus) Komsomol. After the German invasion in 1941, he stayed behind enemy lines, as part of the partisan movement. After the war, he moved up through the ranks of the communist party, becoming Second Secretary of the Belorussian CP Central Committee in February 1949. The First Secretary, Nikolai Patolichev, was a Russian, which meant that by the age of 35, Zimyanin was the highest ranking native-born official in Belarus. In 1952, he became a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

In 1953, soon after the death of Joseph Stalin, Zimyanin was suddenly removed from his position and transferred to the staff of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was a fall in status, that would result in his being dropped from the Central Committee after the 20th Party Congress in 1956. It was all the more abrupt for the fact - not publicised at the time - that in June 1953 he was briefly elevated to the post of First Secretary of the Central Committee in Belarus. This was part of a drive initiated in Moscow by the chief of police, Lavrentiy Beria, to promote native cadres in the non-Russian soviet republics.[3] Zimyanin reputedly travelled to Minsk, and delivered a devastating report on Patolichev's record, while Patolichev sat in silence, having packed his bags ready to go, when a message came through from Moscow to say that Beria had been arrested, and Patolichev was reinstated.[2]

For the next 11 years, while Nikita Khrushchev controlled the communist party of the Soviet Union, Zimyanin's career suffered from the suspicion that he had been too close to Beria. In September 1953, he was appointed head of the department of the Foreign Ministry that handled relations with Poland and Czechoslovakia. He was Ambassador in North Vietnam, January 1956-February 1958, head of the Far Eastern Department of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1958-1960, and Soviet Ambassador in Czechoslovakia from February 1960 to April 1965.

On the day Khrushchev was ousted, and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev, their wives were on holiday together in Czechoslovakia. Meaning to speak to Viktoria Brezhneva, Zimyanin inadvertently rang Nina Khrushcheva and gloated about how he had attacked Khrushchev at the plenum of the Central Committee from which he had just returned, and how wonderful it was to have "dear Leonid Ilych" as the new leader. He realised his mistake when there was no reply from Khrushcheva. That was how she learnt that her husband had been removed from office, because he had not been able to get through to her.[4]

Zimyanin made a comeback in April 1965, as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, and then in September 1976 as Editor of Pravda soon after the Belorussian party boss Kirill Mazurov, who had been Zimyanin's deputy and successor in the Belorussian Komsomol in the 1940s, was transferred to Moscow and raised to full membership of the Politburo. He took a harder line than his predecessor, who had warned against 'anti-intellectualism'. His full membership of the Central Committee was restored in April 1966. Speaking at a private meeting of Soviet journalists in September 1967. Zimyanin described the exiled Ukrainian writer Valery Tarsis as a madman, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as "abnormal, a schizophrenic" with "a grudge against the regime",[5] and attacked the poets Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Andrei Voznesensky. In March 1976, he was appointed a Secretary of the Central Committee, with responsibility for culture, science, and the mass media. He retired in March 1987.


  1. ^ "Mikhail Zimyanin". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. 4 May 1995. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Михаил Васильевич Зимянин". Гоцуддарственное управление в России. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  3. ^ Tatu, Michel (1969). Power in the Kremlin. London: Collins. p. 465.
  4. ^ Taubman, William (2005). Khrushchev, The Man, His Era. The Free Press. pp. 621–22. ISBN 0-7432-7564-0.
  5. ^ Medvedev, Zhores (1975). Ten Years After Ivan Denisovich. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin. p. 94.