Anastas Mikoyan, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister

Anastas Mikoyan, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister

“We think we have got freedom of the press. When one millionaire has ten newspapers and ten million people have no newspapers—that is not freedom of the press.”

Who he was

Anastas Mikoyan was an “early Bolshevik” who was involved in some of the watershed moments in the establishment of the Soviet Union. He was one of the highest-ranking officials in the Soviet Union and was exceptional because he served - and survived - four secretaries general, from Lenin to Brezhnev. 

Born in Sanahin, in the Lori province of Armenia, he attended Armenian schools and had entered seminary. He left as he started to feel less religious and increasingly interested in the socialist cause. 

He became a part of the Baku 26, a group of commissars who occupied Baku as part of the Bolshevik Revolution. They were expelled in a battle with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and allies and subsequently captured, but while 25 of the commissars were executed, Mikoyan mysteriously escaped - nothing is known about how. 

His support for Stalin upon Lenin’s death led him to become an ally of the dictator and be appointed to high posts within the Soviet government.  

Despite his association with Stalin - and equivocal complicity in the latter’s paranoid violence - he was instrumental in helping the Soviet Union to recuperate. As a survivor of Stalin’s purges with which he was intimately familiar, he realized how close he had come to death - and escaped. Mikoyan became a close ally of Nikita Khruschev and assisted him in his de-Stalinization efforts. 

As one of Khruschev’s most trusted advisers, Mikoyan was sent to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro during the Missile Crisis, which he negotiated successfully. He was also sent to the United States on a charm offensive that was generally well-received. 

Interesting fact

Mikoyan was responsible for introducing many American-style foods to the Soviet Union, including hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream - his favorite was ice cream.

Learn more about him

Mikoyan's "Mission Impossible" in Cuba - George Washington University

TIME Magazine Cover