Georgy Arbatov

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Georgy Arkadyevich Arbatov
Arbatov in 2005
Born(1923-05-19)19 May 1923
Died1 October 2010(2010-10-01) (aged 87)
Nationality (legal)Soviet / Russian
OccupationFounder / director of the Institute for US and Canadian Studies

Georgy Arkadyevich Arbatov (Russian: Гео́ргий Арка́дьевич Арба́тов; 19 May 1923 – 1 October 2010) was a Soviet and Russian political scientist who served as an adviser to five General Secretaries of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and was best known in the West during the Cold War era as a representative for the policies of the Soviet Union in the United States, where his fluent English helped make him a frequent guest on American television. He was the founding director and later emeritus director of the Institute of USA and Canada of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (ISKRAN), the Soviet and Russian think tank for the study of US and Canada.

Early career[edit]

Arbatov was born the son of a Bolshevik, Arkady Arbatov (1898–1954), who was of Jewish origin.[1][2][3] His father was part of several Soviet trade missions in the 1930s. Arbatov fought in the Red Army during World War II, taking part in the Revolution Day parade on Red Square on 7 November 1941 and heading from there to the front lines. Arbatov finished the war as chief of staff of the 17th Guards mortar regiment and was awarded the Order of the Red Star in 1943.[4]

While recuperating from tuberculosis in 1944, Arbatov was in a hospital and read an item in a newspaper report stating that a state institute of international relations was being created in Moscow.[citation needed] He applied to attend the school and graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1949, he was awarded a Ph.D. from the same institute in 1954.[4] He worked as a journalist and commentator on foreign affairs between 1953 and 1963 at Kommunist and the English language publication The New Times.[citation needed]

Political scientist[edit]

Arbatov worked at the institute of global economics of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1963-64. He was founder director of the Institute for US and Canadian Studies (ISKRAN) from 1965 to 1995. He was appointed director emeritus of the ISKRAN in 1995. He was appointed adviser to the Central Committee of the CPSU on US matters in 1964-67. He was elected to the Central Committee in 1990 and served in the Supreme Soviet. As an adviser to five General Secretaries of the Communist Party, Arbatov was a frequent participant in arms control negotiations conducted between the US and USSR.[5] According to the CIA, Arbatov was an intermediary between the Politburo and the KGB.[6]

Arbatov in June 1983 at a conference of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) in Amsterdam

Arbatov became the face of the Soviet Union in the West, where he used his strong, though heavily accented, command of the English language to help foster ties with American officials and to present Soviet views to the American public, sparring on American television with such individuals as General Bernard Rogers, the former commander of NATO regarding the military deterrent in Western Europe to Soviet forces.[7] Billy Graham, who had called communism "satanic", said that he had "met a very wonderful official here" after spending three hours together during Graham's 1982 visit to Moscow. Arbatov expressed sharp criticism of the Reagan administration, saying that it conducted a "campaign of demonization, of dehumanization of the other side", remarks that led to difficulties for Arbatov in obtaining visas to enter the United States during that period.[5]

In his 1992 autobiography The System: An Insider's Life in Soviet Politics, Arbatov credited himself as one of those individuals who had worked to implement reform "from the inside, and not from the outside, of the system" that laid the groundwork for the reforms implemented in the 1980s by Mikhail Gorbachev. Sergey Rogov, who succeeded him in 1995 as director of the Institute for U.S.A. and Canada Studies called Arbatov someone who "was probably willing more than anybody else to stick his neck out" to mitigate the influence of anti-American hard liners in the Soviet regime, though "he knew pretty well what were the red lines that he could not cross publicly, and he was very cautious about it". Arbatov recognized that the Soviet Union had lost the Cold War, but insisted that the United States had suffered too by losing "The Enemy", a main adversary consisting of one country on which to concentrate efforts.[5]

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Arbatov was an adviser to the State Duma and a member of the foreign policy council of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation between 1991 and 1996. He was a supporter of the transfer of the southern Kuril Islands to Japan. Arbatov was a critic of the economic reforms implemented by Boris Yeltsin, saying that they placed too much economic and political power in the hands of an unelected few at the expense of the middle class in Russia. He also was a critic of Vladimir Putin's efforts to suppress the democratic movement in Russia.[5]

Arbatov was a participant in the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

Personal life and recognition[edit]

Arbatov was awarded two Orders of Lenin, an Order of the October Revolution, two Orders of the Red Banner of Labour and other medals.

Arbatov died at age 87 on 1 October 2010 in Moscow due to cancer. He was survived by his wife, Svetlana, as well as by his son Aleksei, who also became involved with arms control issues and became a Duma member.[5]

Published work[edit]

Arbatov was the author of over 100 published works:

  • Идеологическая борьба в современных международных отношениях. Доктрина, методы и организация внешнеполитической пропаганды империализма, Moscow 1970; (Ideological conflict in Modern International Relations, Doctrine, Methods and Organisation of the Foreign Policy Propaganda of Imperialism). English edition
  • Глобальная стратегия США в условиях научно-технической революции (The Global strategy of the USA in Conditions of the Scientific/ Technical Revolution), Moscow 1979
  • (with Willem L. Oltmans): Der sowjetische Standpunkt. Über die Westpolitik der UDSSR, München 1981 (ISBN 3-8077-0165-6)
  • Свидетельство современника (Testimony of a Contemporary Man), Moscow 1991; published in English as The System. An Insiders Life in Soviet Politics. N.Y., 1992
  • Затянувшееся выздоровление (1953-1985 гг.), Moscow 1991 (ISBN 5-7133-0385-3) (A Prolonged Recovery),
  • Общественная наука и политика (Social Sciences and Politics), Moscow 1998
  • Повестка дня российско-американских отношений (An Agenda for Russo-American Relations), Moscow 1999
  • Человек Системы (A Man of the System), Moscow 2002
  • Детство. Отрочество. Война: Автобиография на фоне исторических событий (Childhood, Adolescence, War: an Autobiography with a background of historical events), Moscow 2007


  1. ^ Vojtech Mastny (2019). Soviet-east European Survey, 1986-1987. Selected Research And Analysis From Radio Free Europe/radio Liberty. Taylor & Francis. p. 174. ISBN 9781000312768. Quote: "Goergii Arbatov, who was a Jew."
  2. ^ "Georgi Arbatov obituary". The Guardian. October 18, 2010. Quote: "Born in Kherson, in what is now southern Ukraine, Arbatov suffered the disadvantage of having a Jewish father,.."
  3. ^ Robert Scheer (June 3, 1990). "Georgi Arbatov : A Kremlin Insider as an Independent Critic". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 22, 2023. Quote: "Q: How important is anti-Semitism? During your campaign for the People’s Congress you experienced some anti-Semitic attacks because your father was Jewish. A: It is at present not a strong force. These elections have shown that. Would I be absolutely not Jewish they would attack me anyway. They attack many people. like (Yegor) Yakovlev, (editor of the Moscow News) like (Vitaly) Korotich (editor of Ogonyok) as Jewish who are not Jewish at all."
  4. ^ a b АРБАТОВ Георгий Аркадьевич, Institute for US and Canadian Studies. Accessed October 4, 2010. (Russian Language).
  5. ^ a b c d e Levy, Clifford J. "Georgi A. Arbatov, a Bridge Between Cold War Superpowers, Is Dead at 87", The New York Times, October 2, 2010. Accessed October 4, 2010.
  6. ^ Archived 2011-12-23 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Corry, John. "TV REVIEW; Speaking for, and Speaking to, the Russians", The New York Times, December 10, 1987. Accessed October 4, 2010.

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