Alexei Nikolayevich Kosygin (Russian: Алексе́й
Никола́евич Косы́гин, tr. Aleksej Nikolajevič
Kosygin, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksʲej nʲɪkɐˈlajɪvʲɪtɕ
kɐˈsɨɡʲɪn]; 21 February [O.S. 8 February] 1904
– 18 December 1980) was a Soviet-Russian statesman during
the Cold War. Kosygin was born in the city of
Saint Petersburg in 1904
to a Russian working-class family. He was conscripted into the labour
army during the Russian Civil War, and after the Red Army's
demobilisation in 1921, he worked in
Siberia as an industrial manager.
Kosygin returned to
Leningrad in the early 1930s and worked his way up
the Soviet hierarchy. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II),
Kosygin was a member of the
State Defence Committee and was tasked
with moving Soviet industry out of territories soon to be overrun by
the German Army. He served as Minister of Finance for a year before
becoming Minister of Light Industry (later, Minister of Light Industry
and Food). Stalin removed Kosygin from the Politburo one year before
his own death in 1953, intentionally weakening Kosygin's position
within the Soviet hierarchy.
Stalin died in 1953, and on March, 20 1959 Kosygin was appointed to
the position of Chairman of the
State Planning Committee
State Planning Committee (Gosplan), a
post he would hold for little more than a year. Kosygin next became
First Deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers. When Nikita
Khrushchev was removed from power in 1964, Kosygin and Leonid Brezhnev
succeeded him as Premier and First Secretary respectively. Thereafter,
Kosygin formed a troika with Brezhnev and Nikolai Podgorny, the
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, that governed the
Soviet Union in Khrushchev's place.
During the latter half of the 1960s, Kosygin initially emerged as the
most prominent figure in the post-Khrushchev troika. In addition to
managing the Soviet Union’s economy, he assumed a preeminent role in
the nation’s foreign policy by leading arms control talks with the
US and directly overseeing relations with other communist countries.
However, the onset of the
Prague Spring in 1968 resulted in a severe
backlash against his policies that enabled Brezhnev to eclipse him as
the dominant figure in the Politburo. While he and Brezhnev disliked
one another, he remained in office until being forced to retire on
October 23, 1980, due to bad health. He died two months later on
December 18, 1980.
1 Early life and career (1904–1964)
1.1 Stalin era
1.2 Khrushchev era
2.1 Struggle for power with Brezhnev
2.2 Foreign policy
2.3 Economic policy
2.3.1 Five-Year Plans
2.3.2 The "Kosygin" reform
184.108.40.206 Cancellation and aftermath
2.3.3 1973 and 1979 reforms
2.4 Later life, resignation and death
4.1 Historical assessments
7 External links
Early life and career (1904–1964)
Kosygin was born into a Russian working-class family
consisting of his father and mother (Nikolai Ilyich and Matrona
Alexandrovna) and his siblings. The family lived in Saint Petersburg.
Kosygin was baptised (7 March 1904) one month after his
He was conscripted into a labour army on the
Bolshevik side during the
Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War of 1917-1922. After demobilisation from the Red Army
in 1921, Kosygin attended the
Leningrad Co-operative Technical
School and found work in the system of consumer
co-operatives in Novosibirsk, Siberia. When
asked[when?] why he worked in the co-operative sector of the
economy, Kosygin replied, quoting a slogan of Vladimir Lenin:
"Co-operation – the path to socialism!" Kosygin stayed
there for six years.
He applied for a membership in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
in 1927 and returned to
Leningrad in 1930 to study at the
Leningrad Textile Institute [ru]; he graduated in
After finishing his studies, Kosygin worked as a textile-mill
director. Three years later, he was elected Chairman of the Executive
Committee of the
Leningrad City Soviets of Working People's Deputies
Leningrad Communist Party, and the following year he was
People's Commissar for Textile and Industry and earned a
seat on the Central Committee (CC). In 1940 Kosygin became a Deputy
chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, and was appointed in
1943 as Chairman of the
Council of People's Commissars
Council of People's Commissars of the Russian
Kosygin worked for the
State Defence Committee during the Great
Patriotic War (World War II). As Deputy Chairman of the
Council of Evacuation, he had the task of evacuating
industry from territories about to be overrun by the Axis. During the
Leningrad Blockade he participated in organising the construction of a
supply route and a pipeline on the bottom of Lake Ladoga.
Kosygin became a candidate member of the Politburo in 1946, and a full
member on 4 September 1948 (toward the end of Joseph Stalin's rule);
he lost his seat in 1952. He served as Minister of Finance
in 1948, and as Minister of Light Industry from 1949 to
House on the Embankment
House on the Embankment was a building completed in 1931 to
house the government elite; Kosygin lived there
Kosygin's administrative skills led Stalin to take the
younger man under his wing. Stalin shared information with Kosygin,
such as how much money the families of Vyacheslav Molotov, Anastas
Lazar Kaganovich possessed, spent and paid their staff.
(A Politburo member earned a modest salary by Soviet
standards but enjoyed unlimited access to consumer goods.)
Stalin sent Kosygin to each home[when?] to put their houses
into "proper order". Assignments such as these made Kosygin unpopular
with certain members of the Soviet leadership. Kosygin told his
son-in-law Mikhail Gvishiani, an
NKVD officer, of the accusations
leveled against his co-worker Nikolai Voznesensky, then Chairman of
State Planning Committee
State Planning Committee (in office 1942-1949) and a First Deputy
Premier (in office 1941-1946), because of his possession of firearms.
Gvishiani and Kosygin threw all their weapons into a lake and searched
both their own houses for any listening devices. They found one at
Kosygin's house, but it might have been installed to spy on Marshal
Georgy Zhukov, who had lived there before him. According to his
memoirs, Kosygin never left his home without reminding his wife what
to do if he did not return from work. After living two years in
constant fear, the family reached the conclusion[when?] that
Stalin would not harm them.
Kosygin, along with
Alexey Kuznetsov and Voznesensky, formed a troika
in the aftermath of World War II, with high-standing officials such as
Stalin promoting all three up the Soviet hierarchy. Kosygin's life,
which was connected to Kuznetsov through marriage, was hanging by a
thread. How or why Kosygin survived the show trials remains unknown,
but, as some jokes say, he "must have drawn a lucky lottery
Nikita Khrushchev blamed Beria and Malenkov for the innocent deaths
of Kuznetsov (1 October 1950) and Voznesensky (1 October 1950), and
accused Malenkov in 1957 of having concocted a plot so that either
Malenkov or Beria would succeed Stalin upon the latter's
Following Stalin's death in March 1953, Kosygin was demoted, but as a
staunch ally of Khrushchev, his career soon turned around. While never
one of Khrushchev's protégés, Kosygin quickly moved up the party
ladder. Kosygin became an official of the State Planning
Committee in 1957, and was made a candidate member of the Politburo.
He was promoted to the
State Planning Committee
State Planning Committee chairmanship, and
became Khrushchev's First Deputy Premier in 1960. As First Deputy
Premier Kosygin travelled abroad, mostly on trade missions, to
countries such as North Korea, India,
Argentina and Italy. Later, in
the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kosygin was the Soviet
spokesman for improved relations between the
Soviet Union and the
United States. Kosygin regained his old seat in the
Politburo at the 22nd Party Congress in 1961.
Further information: History of the
Soviet Union (1964–1982)
See also: Kosygin's First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Government
Struggle for power with Brezhnev
Kosygin at the Glassboro Summit Conference, 23 June 1967
Further information: Collective leadership
When Khrushchev was dismissed as leader in October 1964,
Kosygin took over Khrushchev's old post as Premier in what initially
was a collective leadership, with
Leonid Brezhnev as general secretary
and Anastas Mikoyan, and later Nikolai Podgorny, as Chairman of the
Presidium. The new Politburo had a more conservative
outlook than that found under Khrushchev; Kosygin, Podgorny and Andrei
Kirilenko were the most liberal members, Brezhnev and Arvīds Pelše
belonged to the moderate faction while
Mikhail Suslov retained his
leadership of the party's
In October 1964, at a ceremony in honour of Soviet cosmonauts,
Brezhnev called for the strengthening of the Party apparatus. This
speech was only the beginning of a large campaign directed against
Kosygin. Several newspapers, such as
Pravda and Kommunist, criticised
the work of the Council of Ministers, and indirectly Kosygin, its
chairman, for planning the economy in an unrealistic fashion, and used
the highly aggressive rhetoric previously used to condemn Khrushchev
Brezhnev was able to criticise Kosygin by contrasting him with
Vladimir Lenin, whom Brezhnev claimed to have been more interested in
improving the conditions of
Soviet agriculture than improving the
quality of light industrial goods. Kosygin's support for producing
more consumer goods was also criticised by Brezhnev, and his
supporters, most notably Konstantin Chernenko, for being a return to
First World policies. At the 23rd Party Congress Kosygin's
position was weakened when Brezhnev's supporters were able to increase
expenditure on defence and agriculture. However, Brezhnev
did not have a majority in the Politburo, and could count on only four
votes. In the Politburo Kosygin could count on Kiril
Mazurov's vote, and when Kosygin and Podgorny were not bickering with
each other, they actually had a majority in the Politburo over
Brezhnev. Unfortunately for Kosygin this was not often the case, and
Kosygin and Podgorny were constantly disagreeing on
Early during Kosygin's tenure, the Brezhnev–Kosygin attempt to
create stability was failing on various fronts. From 1969 to 1970
discontent within the Soviet leadership had grown to such an extent
that some started to doubt both former and current Soviet policies.
Examples include the handling of the
Prague Spring and the later
Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (which Kosygin initially
resisted), the decline in agriculture production, the
Sino–Soviet border conflict (he advocated
Vietnam War, and the Soviet–American
talks on the limitation of strategic missiles. Two summit conferences
between the US and the USSR were held: the Warsaw Pact Summit
Conference and the
Moscow Summit Conference; both failed to gain
support for Soviet policies.
By 1970 these differences had not been resolved, and Brezhnev
postponed the 24th Party Congress and the Ninth Five-Year Plan
(1971–1975). The delay in resolving these issues led to rumours
circulating in Soviet society that Kosygin, or even Brezhnev, would
lose their posts to Podgorny. By March 1971 it became apparent that
Brezhnev was the leader of the country, with Kosygin as the spokesman
of the five-year plan and Podgorny's position within the collective
Kosygin with US President
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson at the 1967 Glassboro
Early on in his tenure, Kosygin challenged Brezhnev's right as general
secretary to represent the country abroad, a function Kosygin believed
should fall into the hands of the head of government, as was common in
non-communist countries. This was actually implemented for a short
period, which led
Henry A. Kissinger
Henry A. Kissinger to believe that
Kosygin was the leader of the Soviet Union. Kosygin, who
had been the chief negotiator with the
First World during the 1960s,
was hardly to be seen outside the Second World after
Brezhnev consolidated his position within the Politburo,
but also due to Andrei Gromyko's dislike of Kosygin meddling into his
own ministerial affairs.
Six-Day War in the Middle East had the effect of increasing
Soviet–American cooperation; to improve relations even further, the
United States Government
United States Government invited Kosygin to a summit with Lyndon B.
Johnson, the President of the United States, following his speech to
the United Nations. At the summit, which became known as
the Glassboro Summit Conference, Johnson and Kosygin failed to reach
agreement on limiting anti-ballistic missile systems, but the summit's
friendly and even open atmosphere was referred to as the "Spirit of
Glassboro". Relations between the two countries improved
further when the 1970
Moscow Treaty was signed on 12 August 1970 by
Kosygin and Gromyko and
Willy Brandt and
Walter Scheel who represented
Alexei Kosygin (left) and
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr signing the
Iraqi–Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Co-Operation in 1972
In 1972, Kosygin signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with
the government of Iraq, building on strong Soviet ties to the Iraqi
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and previous close relations with Iraqi
leader Abd al-Karim Qasim.
Kosygin protected János Kádár's economic reforms and his position
as leader of the
People's Republic of Hungary
People's Republic of Hungary from intervention by the
Soviet leadership. Polish leader Władysław Gomułka, who
was removed from all of his posts in 1970, was succeeded by Edward
Gierek who tried to revitalise the economy of the People's Republic of
Poland by borrowing money from the First World. The Soviet leadership
approved both countries' respective economic experiments, since it was
trying to reduce its large Eastern Bloc subsidy programme in the form
of cheap oil and gas exports. During the discussions
within the Soviet leadership of a possible Soviet invasion of
Czechoslovakia Kosygin reminded leaders of the consequences of the
Soviet suppression of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Kosygin's stance
became more aggressive later on when he understood that the reforms in
Czechoslovakia could be turned against his 1965 Soviet economic
We should tell Taraki and Amin to change their tactics. They still
continue to execute those people who disagree with them. They are
killing nearly all of the
Parcham leaders, not only the highest rank,
but of the middle rank, too.
— Kosygin speaking at a Politburo session.
Kosygin acted as a mediator between
Pakistan in 1966, and
got both nations to sign the Tashkent Declaration. Kosygin became the
chief spokesman on the issue of arms control. In retrospect, many of
Kosygin's co-workers felt he carried out his work "stoically", but
lacked "enthusiasm", and therefore never developed a real taste for
Sino–Soviet split chagrined Kosygin a great deal, and for a
while he refused to accept its irrevocability; he briefly visited
Beijing in 1969 due to increased tension between the USSR and China.
Kosygin said, in a close-knit circle, that "We are communists and they
are communists. It is hard to believe we will not be able to reach an
agreement if we met face to face". His view on China
changed however, and according to Harold Wilson, former Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom, Kosygin viewed China as a "organised military
dictatorship" whose intended goal was to enslave "
Vietnam and the
whole of Asia".
During an official visit by an Afghan delegation, Kosygin and Andrei
Kirilenko criticised Afghan leaders
Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah
Amin for Stalinist-like repressionist behaviour. He promised to send
more economic and military aid, but rejected any proposal regarding a
possible Soviet intervention, as an intervention in
strain the USSR's foreign relations with the
First World according to
Kosygin, most notably West Germany. However, in a closed
meeting, without Kosygin, who strongly opposed any kind of military
intervention, the Politburo unanimously supported a Soviet
Further information: Five-Year Plans for the National Economy of the
The Eighth Five-Year Plan (1966–1970) is considered to be one of the
most successful periods for the Soviet economy and the most successful
when it comes to consumer production (see The "Kosygin"
reform). It became to be known as the "golden
era". The 23rd Party Congress and the Ninth Five-Year Plan
(1971–1975) had been postponed by Brezhnev due to a power struggle
within the Soviet leadership. At the 23rd Party Congress
Kosygin promised that the Ninth Five-Year Plan would increase the
supply of food, clothing and other household appliances up to 50
percent. The plan envisaged a massive increase in the
Soviet standard of living, with Kosygin proclaiming a growth of 40
percent for the population's cash income in his speech to the
The Tenth Five-Year Plan (1976–1981) was referred to by Kosygin as
the "plan of quality". Brezhnev rejected Kosygin's bid for
producing more consumer goods during the Tenth Five-Year Plan. Because
of it the total volume of consumer goods in industrial production only
stood at 26 percent. Kosygin's son-in-law notes that Kosygin was
furious with the decision, and proclaimed increased defence
expenditure would become the Soviet Union's "complete
ruin". The plan was less ambitious than its predecessors,
with targets of national industrial growth no higher than what the
rest of the world had already achieved.
Soviet agriculture would
receive a share investment of 34 percent, a share much larger than its
proportional contribution to the Soviet economy, as it accounted for
only 3 percent of Soviet GDP.
The "Kosygin" reform
Main article: 1965 Soviet economic reform
Like Khrushchev, Kosygin tried to reform the command economy within a
socialist framework. In 1965 Kosygin initiated an economic reform
widely referred to as the "Kosygin reform". Kosygin sought to make
Soviet industry more efficient by including some market measures
common in the
First World such as profit making for instance; he also
tried to increase quantity of production, increase incentives for
managers and workers, and freeing managers from centralised state
bureaucracy. The reform had been proposed to Khrushchev in
1964, who evidently liked it and took some preliminary steps to
implement it. Brezhnev allowed the reform to proceed because the
Soviet economy was entering a period of low growth. In its
testing phase, the reform was applied to 336 enterprises in light
The reform was influenced by the works of Soviet economist Evsei
Liberman. Kosygin overestimated the ability of the Soviet
administrative machine to develop the economy, which led to
"corrections" to some of Liberman's more controversial beliefs about
decentralisation. According to critics, Kosygin's changes to
Liberman's original vision caused the reform to fail.
A propaganda poster promoting the reform. The poster reads, "We're
forging the keys of happiness".
Kosygin, who had for a long time been conscious of the First World's
superiority, believed that decentralisation, semi-public companies,
and cooperatives were keys to catching up. His reform sought a gradual
change from a "state-administered economy" to an economy in which "the
state restricts itself to guiding enterprises". The reform
was implemented, but showed several malfunctions and inconsistencies
The salary for Soviet citizens increased abruptly by almost 2.5 times
during the plan. Real wages in 1980 amounted to 232.7 rubles, compared
to 166.3 rubles before the
1965 Soviet economic reform
1965 Soviet economic reform and the Eighth
Five-Year Plan. The first period, 1960–1964, was characterised by
low growth, while the second period, 1965–1981, had a stronger
growth rate. The second period vividly demonstrated the success of the
Kosygin reform, with the average annual growth in retail turnover
being 11.2 billion rubles, 1.8 times higher than in the first period
and 1.2 times higher than the third period (1981–1985). Consumption
of goods and daily demand also increased. The consumption of home
appliances greatly increased. Refrigerators increased from a low of
109,000 in 1964 to 440,000 units by 1973; consumption declined during
the reversal of the reform. Car production increased, and would
continue to do so until the late 1980s. The Soviet leadership, under
pressure, sought to provide more attractive goods for Soviet
The removal of Khrushchev in 1964 signalled the end of his "housing
revolution". Housing construction declined between 1960 and 1964 to an
average of 1.63 million square metres. Following this sudden decrease,
housing construction increased sharply between 1965 and 1966, but
dropped again, and then steadily grew (the average annual growth rate
was 4.26 million square metres). This came largely at the expense of
businesses. While the housing shortage was never fully resolved, and
still remains a problem in present-day Russia, the reform overcame the
negative trend and renewed the growth of housing
Cancellation and aftermath
Growing hostility towards reform, the poor results, and Kosygin's
reformist stance, led to a popular backlash against him. Kosygin lost
most of the privileges he had enjoyed before the reform, but Brezhnev
was never able to remove him from the office of Chairman of the
Council of Ministers, despite his weakened position. In
the aftermath of his failed reform, Kosygin spent the rest of his life
improving the economic administration through the modification of
targets; he implemented various programmes to improve food security
and ensure the future intensification of production. There
is no proof to back up the claim that the reform itself contributed to
the high growth seen in the late-1960s, and that its cancellation had
anything to do with the stagnating growth of the economy which began
in the 1970s.
1973 and 1979 reforms
1973 Soviet economic reform
1973 Soviet economic reform and 1979 Soviet economic
Kosygin initiated another economic reform in 1973 with the intentions
of weakening the central Ministries and giving more powers to the
regional authorities in republican and local-levels. The reform's
failure to meet Kosygin's goal led to its cancellation. However, the
reform succeeded in creating associations, an organisation
representing various enterprises. The last significant
reform undertaken by the pre-perestroika leadership was initiated by
Kosygin's fifth government in a joint decision of the Central
Committee and the Council of Ministers. The "Improving planning and
reinforcing the effects of the economic mechanism on raising the
effectiveness in production and improving the quality of work", more
commonly known as the 1979 reform. The reform, in contrast to the 1965
reform, was intended to increase the central government's economic
involvement by enhancing the duties and responsibilities of the
ministries. Due to Kosygin's resignation in 1980, and because of
Nikolai Tikhonov's conservative approach to economics, very little of
the reform was actually implemented.
Later life, resignation and death
Kosygin (right) shaking hands with Romanian communist leader Nicolae
Ceauşescu in 1974
By the early to mid-1970s Brezhnev had established a strong enough
power base to effectively become leader. According to historian Ilya
Zemtsov, the author of Chernenko: The Last Bolshevik: The Soviet Union
on the Eve of Perestroika, Kosygin "began to lose power" with the 24th
Party Congress in 1971 which for the first time publicised the formula
'the Politburo led by Brezhnev'". Along with weakening Kosygin's
position, Brezhnev moved to strengthen the Party's hold on the
Government apparatus, weakening Kosygin's position
further. Historian Robert Wesson, the author of Lenin's
Legacy: The Story of the CPSU, notes that Kosygin's economic report to
the 25th Party Congress "pointed even more clearly to the end of
struggle" between Brezhnev and Kosygin. Kosygin was
further pushed aside when Brezhnev published his memoirs, which stated
that Brezhnev, not Kosygin, was in charge of all major economic
decisions. To make matters worse for Kosygin, Brezhnev
blocked any future talks on economic reform within the party and
government apparatus, and information regarding the reform of 1965 was
Brezhnev consolidated his own position over the Government Apparatus
by strengthening Podgorny's position as Chairman of the Presidium of
the Supreme Soviet, literally head of state, by giving the office some
of the functions of the Premier. The 1977 Soviet Constitution
strengthened Podgorny's control of the Council of Ministers, by giving
the post of head of state some executive powers. In fact, because of
the 1977 Soviet Constitution, the Council of Ministers became
subordinate to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. When
Podgorny was replaced as head of state in 1977 by Brezhnev, Kosygin's
role in day-to-day management of government activities was lessened
drastically, through Brezhnev's new-found post. Rumours
started circulating within the top circles, and on the streets, that
Kosygin would retire due to bad health.
Brezhnev's consolidation of power weakened Kosygin's influence and
prestige within the Politburo. Kosygin's position was gradually
weakened during the 1970s and he was frequently
hospitalised. On several occasions Kiril Mazurov, the
First Deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers, had to act on his
behalf. Kosygin suffered his first heart attack in 1976.
After this incident, it is said that Kosygin changed from having a
vibrant personality to being tired and fed up; he, according to people
close to him, seemed to have lost the will to continue his work. He
twice filed a letter of resignation between 1976 and 1980, but was
turned down on both occasions. During Kosygin's sick
leave, Brezhnev appointed
Nikolai Tikhonov to the post of First Deputy
Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Tikhonov, as with Brezhnev, was
a conservative, and through his post as First Deputy chairman Tikhonov
was able to reduce Kosygin to a standby role. At a Central Committee
plenum in June 1980, the Soviet economic development plan was outlined
by Tikhonov, not Kosygin. The powers of the Premier diminished to the
point where Kosygin was forced to discuss all decisions made by the
Council of Ministers with Brezhnev.
Kosygin was hospitalised in October 1980; during his stay Kosygin
wrote a brief letter of resignation; the following day he was deprived
of all government protection, communication, and luxury goods he had
earned during his political life. Kosygin died on 18 December 1980;
none of his Politburo colleagues, former aides, or security guards
visited him. At the end of his life, Kosygin feared the complete
failure of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (1981–1985), claiming that
the sitting leadership was reluctant to reform the stagnant Soviet
economy. His funeral was postponed for three days, as Kosygin died on
the eve of Brezhnev's birthday, and the day of Stalin's. He was buried
in Red Square, Moscow. Kosygin was praised by Brezhnev as
an individual who "laboured selflessly for the good of the Soviet
state". A state funeral was conducted and Kosygin was
honoured by his peers; Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Tikhonov laid an
urn containing his ashes at the Kremlin Wall.
Compared to other Soviet officials, Kosygin stood out as a pragmatic
and relatively independent leader. In a description given by an
anonymous high-ranking GRU official, Kosygin is described as "a lonely
and somewhat tragic figure" who "understood our faults and
shortcomings of our situation in general and those in our Middle East
policy in particular, but, being a highly restrained man, he preferred
to be cautious." An anonymous former co-worker of Kosygin said "He
always had an opinion of his own, and defended it. He was a very alert
man, and performed brilliantly during negotiations. He was able to
cope quickly with the material that was totally new to him. I have
never seen people of that calibre afterwards."
Canadian Prime Minister
Pierre Trudeau said Kosygin was like
"Khrushchev without the rough edges, a fatherly man who was the
forerunner of Mikhail Gorbachev". He noted that Kosygin was willing to
discuss issues so long that the Soviet position was not tackled
United States Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State Henry A.
Kissinger said that Kosygin was devoted, nearly fanatically, to his
work. Kosygin was viewed by Western diplomats as a pragmatist "with a
glacial exterior who was orthodox if not rigid". Andrei
Sakharov, a Soviet dissident, believed Kosygin to be "the most
intelligent and toughest man in the Politburo".
Kosygin would prove to be a very competent administrator, with the
Soviet standard of living rising considerably due to his moderately
reformist policy. Kosygin's moderate 1965 reform, as with
Nikita Khrushchev's thaw, radicalised the Soviet reform movement.
Leonid Brezhnev was content to maintain the centralised
structure of the Soviet planned economy, Kosygin attempted to
revitalise the ailing economic system by decentralising management.
Following Brezhnev's death in 1982, the reform movement was split
between Yuri Andropov's path of discipline and control and Gorbachev's
liberalisation of all aspects of public life.
Chernenko: The Last Bolshevik: The
Soviet Union on the Eve of
Perestroika author Ilya Zemtsov describes Kosygin as a "Determined and
intelligent, an outstanding administrator" and claims he distinguished
himself from the other members of the Soviet leadership with his
"extraordinary capacity for work". Historians Moshe Lewin
and Gregory Elliott, the authors of The Soviet Century, describe him
as a "phenomenal administrator". "His strength", David Law
writes, was "his exceptional capability as an administrator".
According to Law Kosygin proved himself to be a "competent politician"
also. Historians Evan Mawdsley and Stephen White claim that
Brezhnev was unable to remove Kosygin because his removal would mean
the loss of his last "capable administrator". In their
book, The Unknown Stalin,
Roy Medvedev and
Zhores Medvedev called
Kosygin an "outstanding organiser", and the "new
Voznesensky". Historian Archie Brown, the author The Rise
& Fall of Communism, believes the
1965 Soviet economic reform
1965 Soviet economic reform to
have been too "modest", and claimed that Kosygin "was too much a
product of the Soviet ministerial system, as it evolved under Stalin,
to become a radical economic reformer". However, Brown does believe
that Kosygin was "an able administrator". Gvishiani, a
Russian historian, concluded that "Kosygin survived both Stalin and
Khrushchev, but did not manage to survive Brezhnev."
Kosygin was viewed with sympathy by the Soviet people, and is still
presently viewed as an important figure in both Russian and Soviet
history. Because of Kosygin's popularity among the Soviet
people, Brezhnev developed a "strong jealousy" for Kosygin, according
to Nikolai Egorychev. Mikhail Smirtyukov, the former Executive Officer
of the Council of Ministers, recalled that Kosygin refused to go
drinking with Brezhnev, a move which annoyed Brezhnev
gravely. Nikolai Ryzhkov, the last Chairman of the Council
of Ministers, in a speech to the Supreme Soviet of the
Soviet Union in
1987 referred to the "sad experiences of the 1965 reform", and claimed
that everything went from bad to worse following the reform's
During his lifetime, Kosygin received seven Orders and two Awards from
the Soviet state. He was awarded two Hero of Socialist
Labour (USSR); one being on his 60th birthday by the Presidium of the
Supreme Soviet in 1964, on this occasion he was also awarded an Order
of Lenin and a
Hammer and Sickle
Hammer and Sickle Gold Medal. On 20 February 1974, to
commemorate his 70th birthday, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
awarded him another
Order of Lenin
Order of Lenin and his second Hammer and Sickle
Gold Medal. In total, Kosygin was awarded six
Orders of Lenin
Orders of Lenin by the
Soviet state, and one
Order of the October Revolution
Order of the October Revolution and one Order of
the Red Banner of Labour. During a state visit to
the 1970s with
Leonid Brezhnev and Andrei Gromyko, all three were
awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun by President Francisco
Morales Bermúdez. The
Moscow State Textile University was
named in his honour in 1981, in 1982 a bust to honour Kosygin was
placed in Leningrad, present day Saint Petersburg. In 2006 the Russian
Government renamed a street after him.
^ Law 1975, p. 214.
^ a b c d Алексей Гвишиани: "Не надо жалеть
Косыгина!" [Alex Gvishiani: "Do not feel sorry for
Kosygin!"] (in Russian).
Pravda Online. 9 April 2004. p. 3.
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^ Tucker, Spencer C.; Roberts, Priscilla (12 May 2008). "Kosygin,
Alexei". The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political,
Social, and Military History [4 volumes]: A Political, Social,
and Military History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781851098422.
^ a b Law 1975, p. 221.
^ Андриянов, Виктор (23 August 2003).
Неизвестный Косыгин [The Unknown Kosygin].
Rossiyskaya Gazeta (in Russian). Retrieved 4 September 2010.
^ Society for Contemporary Studies 1979, p. 15.
^ a b c d e Law 1975, p. 222.
^ Safire 1988, p. 610.
^ a b Алексей Николаевич Косыгин [Alexei
Nikolayevich Kosygin] (in Russian).
Moscow State Textile
University. 27 November 2008. Archived from the original on 10 August
2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
^ a b c d Алексей Гвишиани: "Не надо жалеть
Косыгина!" [Alex Gvishiani: "Do not feel sorry for
Kosygin!"] (in Russian).
Pravda Online. 9 April 2004. Archived
from the original on 11 August 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
^ a b c d e f g Elliott & Lewin 2005, p. 248.
^ Moss 2005, p. 247.
^ a b "Suddenly Nikita's day was done". Life. 23 October 1964.
^ a b c d Z. Medvedev & R. Medvedev 2006, p. 48.
^ Elliott & Lewin 2005, p. 95.
^ Elliott & Lewin 2005, p. 96.
"Life Hung by a Thread". Life. 11 December 1970. p. 59.
^ Service 2009, p. 377.
^ Brown 2009, p. 402.
^ a b c d e Law 1975, p. 211.
^ Zemtsov 1989, p. 86.
^ Zemtsov 1989, p. 102.
^ Zemtsov 1989, p. 103.
^ a b c Brown 2009, p. 403.
^ Wesson 1978, p. 248.
^ a b Van Dijk 2008, p. 525.
^ Gibbons 1995, pp. 718–719.
^ Robbins 2010, p. 73.
^ Dannenberg 2008, p. 33.
^ Coughlin 2005, p. 106.
^ Service 2009, p. 385.
^ Service 2009, p. 386.
^ Service 2009, p. 388.
^ Harrison & Cordovez 1995, pp. 36–37.
^ a b Zubok 2007, pp. 194–195.
^ Colman 2004, p. 125.
^ Brown 2009, pp. 352–353.
^ Brown 2009, p. 354.
^ Прямые инвестиции / № 9 (89) 2009. А.
Милюков. О причинах кризиса.
^ Daniels 1993, p. 65.
^ Daniels 1993, p. 302.
^ Rutland 1985, p. 137.
^ Ploss 2010, p. 171.
^ a b c Wesson 1978, p. 253.
^ a b Moss 2005, p. 431.
^ a b Chauhan 2004, p. 207.
^ Wesson 1978, p. 240.
^ Elliott & Lewin 2005, p. 249.
^ Анализ динамики показателей уровня
жизни населения [Analysis of the dynamics of living
standards] (in Russian).
Moscow State University. Retrieved 4
^ a b Травин, Дмитрий. Алексей
Николаевич Косыгин [Alexei Nikolayevich
Kosygin] (in Russian). peoples.ru. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
^ Sandle & Bacon 2002, p. 58.
^ Dellenbrant 1986, pp. 74–75.
^ ютуба, любитель (17 December 2010). "30 лет
назад умер Алексей Косыгин" [A reformer
before Yegor Gaidar? Kosygin died for 30 years ago]. Newsland (in
Russian). Retrieved 29 December 2010.
^ a b c Zemtsov 1989, p. 119.
^ Wesson 1978, p. 254.
^ Zemtsov 1989, p. 118.
^ a b "Soviet Union: And Then There Was One". Time. 3 November 1980.
Retrieved 21 January 2011.
^ a b Zemtsov 1989, p. 105.
^ Вергасов, Фатех. Организация
здорового накала [The Healthy Glow of
Organisation] (in Russian). pseudology.org. Retrieved 4 September
^ "World: Lonely Death of a Survivor". Time. 29 December 1980.
p. 1. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
^ Saikal 2006, p. 293.
^ Bothwell & Granatstein 1991, p. 193.
^ "World: Lonely Death of a Survivor". Time. 29 December 1980.
p. 2. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
^ Zemtsov 1989, pp. 86–87.
^ a b Mawdsley & White 2000, p. 272.
^ Ellman 1989, p. 73.
^ a b Staff writer. Косы́гин, Алексе́й
Никола́евич [Kosygin, Alexei Nikolayevich] (in
Russian). warheroes.ru. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
^ Central Asian Research Centre 1979, p. 64.
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Media related to
Alexei Kosygin at Wikimedia Commons
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