|Minister of Culture of the Soviet Union|
4 May 1960 – 24 October 1974
|Preceded by||Nikolai Mikhailov|
|Succeeded by||Pyotr Demichev|
24 November 1910|
Vyshny Volochyok, Tver Governorate, Russian Empire
|Died||24 October 1974
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Political party||Communist Party of the Soviet Union|
Yekaterina Alexeyevna Furtseva (Russian: Фурцева Екатерина Алексеевна; 7 December 1910, Vyshny Volochyok – 24 October 1974, Moscow) was probably the most influential woman in Soviet politics and the first woman to be admitted into Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. (There were only two women to be elected full members of the Central Committee's Politburo: Yekaterina Furtseva (1957–1961) and, at the end of the Perestroika, Galina Semyonova (1990–1991).
Until the 1940s, Furtseva worked as an ordinary weaver at one of Moscow's textile factories. She had been a minor party worker in Kursk and the Crimea, and was called to Moscow and sent to the Institute of Chemical Technology from where she graduated in 1941 as a chemical engineer. Furtseva's party career started under Joseph Stalin. Gradually, she became active in Komsomol affairs and rose to the position of Secretary of the Moscow City Council in 1950. She gave a speech at the 19th Congress of the CPSU in 1952, the last party congress of the Stalin era, where she was also elected a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
Under Nikita Khrushchev, who sympathized with her, Furtseva was the first secretary of Moscow Committee of the CPSU from 1954 to 1957.
In 1952, Furtseva attacked the leading filmstar, Boris Babochkin, who was famous since starring as Vasily Chapayev. This time Furtseva saw the actor starring in a stageplay, and was enraged by Babochkin's satirical portrayal of the Soviet communist leadership. Her angry article in the Soviet newspaper Pravda called for censorship of Babochkin, while Furtseva furthered her career in the Soviet elite. Then Furtseva personally ordered that all film studios and drama companies of the USSR should refuse Babochkin any jobs, keeping him unemployed.
In 1956 she was appointed a Secretary of the Central Committee and was elected a candidate member of Politburo. She became the first woman to join the Politburo the next year. In this capacity, she sided with Khrushchev in de-Stalinization during the Khrushchev's Thaw, and secured the downfall of Vyacheslav Molotov, Georgy Malenkov, and Lazar Kaganovich when they conspired to depose her patron.
During that time she fell in love with Nikolay Firyubin, the Soviet ambassador in Yugoslavia. Furtseva scandalized the Soviet elite by her weekend trips abroad in order to meet her lover. As he married her and rose to become the Deputy Foreign Minister, they settled in Moscow, and their relations cooled down somewhat.
In 1960, the KGB recorded her telephone call to a friend denouncing Khrushchev's policies. This affair led to her being ousted from the Politburo. In exasperation, she made her first attempt at suicide by cutting her veins. Furtseva's ostensible repentance gained her pardon and appointment, also in 1960, to the honourable but politically powerless position of the Soviet Minister of Culture.
Despite being demoted from the Politburo and losing political power, the following 14 years became remembered as the Age of Furtseva, as she exerted immense influence on Soviet culture, both repressive and beneficent. As she became increasingly interested in manipulating theatre and cinema, many remarkable actors and directors tried to secure her friendship in order to further their own careers. According to the most intimate of her friends (such as the singer Lyudmila Zykina), she also became addicted to alcohol. She died in 1974 due to heart failure according to the official version. Yet there were rumors, that she was implicated in illegal commercial dealings and, wishing to preclude the impending scandal and disgrace, committed suicide. Furtseva is buried at the Novodevichye Cemetery.
- O, Ekaterina. Time, March 12, 1956. Accessed 4 January 2009.
- Совершенно СЕКРЕТНО – Чапаем заклейменный. Sovsekretno.ru. Retrieved on 2012-08-05.
- Soviet Official Ekaterina Furtseva Dies. Washington Post, 26 October 1974, p. D8.
- Любимые мужчины Екатерины Фурцевой, Аргументы и факты № 02 (104. Gazeta.aif.ru (30 January 2007). Retrieved on 2012-08-05.
- Vladimir Shlapentokh, and Joshau Woods. Contemporary Russia as a Feudal Society: A New Perspective on the Post-Soviet Era. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. ISBN 978-0-230-60096-6; p. 59
- Furtseva's grave. novodevichye.com