Skip to comments.The Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev, Archive Publishes Second Installment of Former Top Soviet Adviser
Posted on 05/29/2007 11:51:15 AM PDT by Mike Fieschko
Washington, DC, May 25, 2007 - Today the National Security Archive publishes the second installment of the diary of one of the key behind-the-scenes figures of the Gorbachev era--Anatoly Sergeevich Chernyaev. This document is being published in English here for the first time.
It is hard to overestimate the uniqueness and importance of this diary for our understanding of the end of the Cold War--and specifically for the peaceful withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The document allows the reader a rare opportunity to become a fly on the wall during the heady discussions of early perestroika, and to witness such fascinating phenomena as how the dying ideology of Soviet-style communism held sway over the hearts and minds of Soviet society.
In 2004, Anatoly Chernyaev donated the originals of his diaries from 1972 to 1991 to the National Security Archive in order to ensure full and permanent public access to his notes--beyond the reach of the political uncertainties of contemporary Russia. The Archive is planning to publish the complete English translation of the diaries in regular installments.
The second installment covers the year 1986, when the author becomes Mikhail Gorbachev's foreign policy adviser. The beginning of the year is marked by radical personnel changes as Gorbachev moves old Brezhnevite elements away from the central party organs and replaces them with people who share his ideas for change. The International Department, in which Chernyaev begins this year, is in turmoil as is the international communist movement. Head of the International Department Boris Ponomarev was replaced in 1986 by former Soviet Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin.
The diary reflects the admiration Chernyaev felt for Gorbachev and the spectacular plans for change, both internally and in foreign policy, which he brought with him. Chernyaev initially compares Gorbachev to Lenin, but also notes how ideology was losing its weight in the style and substance of real policy under the new General Secretary. Domestic issues were the first priority for Gorbachev-Chernyaev notes that they take up 95% of the time, even though foreign policy issues appear more visible in the front pages of the newspapers. One of the first important battles is in the cultural sphere-erupting into the open at the Writers Union Congress in the summer of 1986. Several prominent liberal writers and cultural figures were given support by Gorbachev and allowed to be published, most famously Anatoly Rybakov with his Children of the Arbat.
1986 is also the year of a most significant breakthrough in foreign policy, which determined further progress in arms control and in Soviet-American relations. On January 15, Gorbachev issues his Program for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons by the year 2000. Reflecting on this, Chernyaev notes in his diary that the statement exemplified Gorbachev's realization that "nobody is going to attack us even if we disarm totally." It is also the year of Reykjavik, where Gorbachev and Reagan came came close to agreeing to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Even though both of them were unable to grasp that historic opportunity, the sparks of shared thinking on the immoral nature of nuclear weapons helped the two leaders work together productively on arms control and many other pressing issues of world politics, winding the Cold War down.
By the end of the year, perestroika was in full swing with sweeping personnel changes at home, and new thinking was starting to become the hallmark of Gorbachev's foreign policy. Chernyaev's diary traces the evolution and practical realization of new thinking in both spheres in 1986 as seen from the unique perspective of a person working daily by Gorbachev's side.
Anatoly Sergeevich Chernyaev was born on May 25, 1921 in Moscow. He fought in World War II beginning in 1941. After the war, he returned to his studies at Moscow State University in the Department of History, which he completed in 1948. From 1950-1958, he taught contemporary history at Moscow State University. From 1958-1961, Chernyaev worked in Prague on the editorial board of the theoretical journal Problems of Peace and Socialism, joining the International Department in 1961. In 1986, he became foreign policy adviser to the General Secretary, and later to the first and the last President of the USSR. A prolific writer, Chernyaev has published five monographs in addition to numerous articles in Soviet, Russian, European and U.S. journals.
The National Security Archive takes great pleasure in wishing a happy birthday to Anatoly Sergeevich, who for years has been our partner in the mission to fight government secrecy through glasnost. Anatoly Sergeevich turns 86 today.
The Chernyaev Diary was translated by Anna Melyakova and edited by Svetlana Savranskaya for the National Security Archive
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