Molotov, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Molotov, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov (vyĕ´chĬsläf´ mēkhī´ləvĬch mô´lətəf), 1890–1986, Soviet political leader. A Communist from 1906, he changed his name from Skriabin to Molotov [the hammer] to escape the imperial police. He was, however, arrested and exiled in 1909. He returned (1911) to St. Petersburg, and when the Bolshevik daily Pravda was founded in 1912, he became acting editor. On the eve of the February Revolution of 1917, Molotov was one of the few leading Bolsheviks actually in Russia, and after the October Revolution he rose rapidly in the party and was a strong supporter of Stalin. He was chairman of the council of people's commissars (i.e., premier of the USSR) from 1930 to 1941, when that post was assumed by Joseph Stalin and Molotov became vice chairman. In 1939 he succeeded Maxim Maximovich Litvinov as commissar of foreign affairs (a title later changed to foreign minister), and in this capacity he negotiated with Joachim von Ribbentrop the Russo-German nonaggression pact, signed at Moscow in Aug., 1939. After the German invasion (1941) of Russia Molotov helped to strengthen the Soviet alliance with the West, shared in the founding of the United Nations, and took part in all major international conferences until 1949, when Andrei Vishinsky succeeded him as foreign minister. As a diplomat Molotov gained a reputation for personal inflexibility and unswerving adherence to Soviet policies. After Stalin's death (1953) he was again foreign minister until 1956. An opponent of Nikita Khrushchev, he was expelled from the central committee of the Communist party in 1957 after having unsuccessfully tried to oust Khrushchev. He subsequently held minor posts. From 1957 to 1960 he served as ambassador to Mongolia; he was then transferred to Vienna, where he represented (1960–61) the USSR in the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 1964, it was revealed that he had been expelled from the Communist party. He was reinstated to party membership in 1984.

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