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24 February 1994
The Fate of Marxism in Russia 
by Alexander Yakovlev, translated by Catherine Fitzpatrick.
Yale, 250 pp., £19.95, October 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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Politics and Society in Russia 
by Richard Sakwa.
Routledge, 518 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 415 09540 9
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... the Russian state’, to use Peter Reddaway’s phrase, to sustain the free and democratic political life which its leaders advocate, and of which there are some signs? The answers Richard Sakwa and AlexanderYakovlev give to these questions are discouraging, even where they are not meant to be. The shift in the politics of Russia which followed the December elections is very marked; it is also, as usual ...

Diary

John Lloyd: In Moscow

12 September 1991
... buses still parked across the road as it rises out of the tunnel. Anyone who points out the truth, that they died needlessly, foolishly, is reviled. But they did. Trying to get to a briefing with AlexanderYakovlev the next day, I found my car diverted from the central area and ended up in a jam near Dzerzhinsky Square. Crowds were streaming past, dancing with excitement. Leaving the car, I followed ...

Year One

John Lloyd

30 January 1992
Boris Yeltsin 
by John Morrison.
Penguin, 303 pp., £8.99, November 1991, 0 14 017062 6
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The August Coup: The Truth and its Lessons 
by Mikhail Gorbachev.
HarperCollins, 127 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 9780002550444
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The future belongs to freedom 
by Eduard Shevardnadze.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 256 pp., £15, September 1991, 1 85619 105 2
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Bear-Hunting with the Politburo 
by A. Craig Copetas.
Simon and Schuster, 271 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 671 70313 7
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The Accidental Proletariat: Workers, Politics and Crisis in Gorbachev’s Russia 
by Walter Connor.
Princeton, 374 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 691 07787 8
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... decisive political advantage to those who had set themselves in opposition to the Communist Party, and made it impossible to conduct politics through it. Gorbachev – and with him Shevardnadze and AlexanderYakovlev, the foremost reformers since 1985 – have seemed unable to express their thoughts in public except by means of high-sounding generalisations. Shevardnadze’s The future belongs to freedom ...

Diary

Eric Hobsbawm: An Assembly of Ghosts

21 April 2005
... of the 1917 Russian Revolution the byvshie lyudi, the ‘former people’. Few of those present from the East had been long-time dissidents. Sakharov’s widow, Elena Bonner, stands out, as does AlexanderYakovlev, once Gorbachev’s closest ally, who now denounces everything about the Soviet era. Most are people with a lifetime of loyal and successful service to their regimes behind them, whose world ...
8 July 1993
Ablaze: The Story of Chernobyl 
by Piers Paul Read.
Secker, 478 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 436 40963 1
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... coup of August 1991, but the preceding narrative, carefully compiled, is excellent. Read is not a ‘Soviet specialist’ and mostly that is to the good. The disadvantage is a certain carelessness: AlexanderYakovlev, whom Read correctly identifies as the most liberal member of Gorbachev’s Politburo, was not made director of State TV and Radio – that was Yegor Yakovlev, formerly editor of Moscow News ...

Diary

Peter Pomerantsev: What fascists?

18 June 2014
... Absolutely obvious.’ I didn’t pay much attention at first. A conspiratorial mind-set is the default of Putinism, inherited from the late Soviet period: ‘Perestroika came much too late,’ AlexanderYakovlev, one of Gorbachev’s mentors, remembered. ‘The years of social stagnation almost killed social idealism … sowing cynicism, disbelief and social lassitude.’ In the 1990s this attitude ...

Diary

John Lloyd: The Russian reformers’ new party

15 July 1999
... the early Nineties – reform, anti-Communism, liberalisation – which now grate on many Russian cars because they have produced so few rewards for the many and so much corrupt wealth for the few. AlexanderYakovlev, the great liberalising force of the Gorbachev years, thanks to his brief in the Politburo – Ideology – took the podium first. His limp is one of the rare memories nowadays of the Great ...

Glasnost

John Barber

29 October 1987
Socialism, Peace and Democracy: Writings, Speeches and Reports 
by Mikhail Gorbachev.
Zwan, 210 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 1 85305 011 3
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Gorbachev 
by Zhores Medvedev.
Blackwell, 314 pp., £5.95, May 1987, 0 631 15880 4
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The Sixth Continent: Russia and Mikhail Gorbachov 
by Mark Frankland.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £12.95, June 1987, 0 241 12122 1
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Shadows and Whispers: Power Politics inside the Kremlin from Brezhnev to Gorbachev 
by Dusko Doder.
Harrap, 349 pp., £12.95, July 1987, 0 245 54577 8
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Pravda: Inside the Soviet News Machine 
by Angus Roxburgh.
Gollancz, 285 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 575 03734 2
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Utopia in Power: A History of the USSR from 1917 to the Present 
by Michel Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich.
Hutchinson, 877 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 09 155620 1
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... and even allowing some unemployment. In culture, glasnost has seen the appearance of works banned for years or decades. They include Anna Akhmatova’s Rekviem (written during and about the Purges), Alexander Tvardovsky’s long-suppressed By Right of Memory, dealing with collectivisation, Anatoly Zhigulin’s cycle of poems about his time in Stalinist prisons and camps, poems by long ignored émigrés or ...
27 September 1990
Moving the Mountain: Inside the Perestroika Revolution 
by Abel Aganbegyan, translated by Helen Szamuely.
Bantam, 248 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 593 01818 4
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Gorbachev’s Struggle for Economic Reform: The Soviet Reform Process 
by Anders Aslund.
Pinter, 219 pp., £35, May 1989, 0 86187 008 5
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... of two or three years’ standing, such as Memorial and the Democratic Union. Many followed – or anticipated – Yeltsin’s renunciation of his Party membership at the 28th Party Congress in July. Alexander Tsipko, deputy director of the Institute of the World Socialist System, told me in August that over a two-week period all of his colleagues at this prestigious institute handed in their cards – ...
7 March 1991
Gorbachev: The Making of the Man who Shook the World 
by Gail Sheehy.
Heinemann, 468 pp., £16.99, December 1990, 0 434 69518 1
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Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin 
by Dusko Doder and Louise Branson.
Macdonald, 430 pp., £14.95, December 1990, 0 356 19760 3
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The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union 
edited by Graham Smith.
Longman, 389 pp., £22.50, January 1991, 0 582 03953 3
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... when, last year, he gave the Soviet President 30 days to get to grips with the dissolution of the Union. Those whom Alksnis most criticised – Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Foreign Minister; Yegor Yakovlev, formerly Gorbachev’s closest aide in the Politburo; Vadim Bakatin, the relatively liberal former Interior Minister – have all been replaced. It is no longer the case, however, that such people ...

Big Man Walking

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev’s Dispensation

14 December 2017
Gorbachev: His Life and Times 
by William Taubman.
Simon and Schuster, 880 pp., £25, September 2017, 978 1 4711 4796 8
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... But daring things were being plotted in Czechoslovakia, and in 1967 their old friend Mlynář came to stay with the Gorbachevs in Stavropol. Mlynář had by now become a bold advocate of what, under Alexander Dubček, would be named ‘socialism with a human face’. He had been in Moscow pleading for understanding of the coming changes, and Gorbachev listened, fascinated, to the plans for democratisation ...

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