Valentin Varennikov

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Valentin Varennikov
Evstafiev-Valentin Varennikov 11AUG94.jpg
Valentin Varennikov in August 1994 after he was acquitted by the Russian Supreme Court
Native name
Валентин Иванович Варенников
Born(1923-12-15)December 15, 1923
Krasnodar, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
DiedMay 6, 2009(2009-05-06) (aged 85)
Moscow, Russia
AllegianceSoviet Union
Service/branchSoviet Army
Years of service1941–1991
RankArmy general
Commands held
  • Commander Land Forces
  • Deputy Minister of Defence of the USSR
Other workmember of the Russian parliament

Valentin Ivanovich Varennikov (Russian: Валентин Иванович Варенников) (December 15, 1923 – May 6, 2009)[1] was a Soviet/Russian Army general and politician, best known for being one of the planners and leaders of the Soviet–Afghan War, as well as one of the instigators of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt.

Early life[edit]

Valentin Varennikov was born to a poor Cossack family in Krasnodar. His father, who fought in the Russian Civil War, graduated from the Moscow industrial institute and was a manager. His mother died in 1930 when he was seven.[2]

Military career[edit]

He became a junior officer of the Red Army and fought in the Battle of Stalingrad as well as in the successful campaigns to retake Ukraine and Belarus from the German army. Varennikov finished the German–Soviet War in the Battle of Berlin as one of the commanders of the Soviet soldiers who captured the Reichstag.

Varennikov stayed in East Germany as an officer of the Soviet troops, stationed there until 1950.

In 1954 he graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in Moscow. Later he graduated from the General Staff Academy. In 1960 he became deputy commander of a motor rifle division. From 1962 to 1966 Varennikov commanded the 54th Motor Rifle Division of the Leningrad Military District. In 1964 armed forces inspectors tested the division, and it was awarded as one of the six top divisions of the Ground Forces of the USSR Armed Forces by order of the Minister of Defence.[3] In August 1965 he was enrolled in the General Staff Academy. From 1967 to 1969 he commanded the 26th Army Corps of the Leningrad Military District.

In 1969 Varennikov took charge of the 3rd Shock Army, and in 1979 became a deputy chief of the Soviet General Staff.

Between 1984 and 1985, Varennikov worked with the Soviet military mission in Angola, then in the throes of a bloody civil war. In a sharp contrast with the official policy of only permitting Soviet military advisers to serve in non-combat roles, Varennikov supported allowing the advisers to fight alongside their Angolan allies in the event they came under attack.[4] He was the senior Soviet general officer in Angola during Operation Askari, and personally advised Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos on defensive measures to counter the South African incursion.[4]

During the last few years of the Soviet–Afghan War, Varennikov was the personal representative in Kabul of the Soviet Defence Minister and held negotiations with the United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan members who oversaw the pullout from the country of Soviet troops between 1988 and 1989.

In 1989 General Varennikov was named Commander-in-chief of Ground Forces and Deputy Minister of Defence.

In 1991, during the August coup attempt he joined forces opposing Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. After the coup's failure General Varennikov was arrested, tried, and prosecuted together with other coup plotters. He was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Russia in 1994, as the court concluded he had merely followed orders and had acted "only in an interest of preserving and strengthening his country".[5] He was the only member of the group of accused plotters who refused to accept an amnesty.

Political career[edit]

Varennikov with Vladimir Putin, 11 April 2002

In 1995 Varennikov, as a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, was elected deputy of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. In the Duma Varennikov presided over the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

In 2003 he joined the Rodina bloc as one of its leaders.

Other activities[edit]

In February 2008, Valentin Varennikov was officially accepted as fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (Armenian branch) and member of the International Academy Ararat. He was the president and founder of the International League for Human Dignity and Security, an international NGO present in more than 40 countries.[6]

Stalin's champion[edit]

Varennikov was one of Russia's most outspoken defenders of Joseph Stalin. During 2008, Varennikov presented the case for Stalin as Russia's greatest historical figure on the Name of Russia television project. Stalin won third place. According to Varennikov: "We became a great country because we were led by Stalin."[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

Varennikov was a holder of the Hero of the Soviet Union title and is a titular Knight of the Order of Glory, as well as having received numerous other Soviet, Russian and foreign medals and decorations. He held the honorary rank of retired field marshal.

Personal life[edit]

He had two sons and lived in Moscow, where he died on May 6, 2009, aged 85. One of his sons, Vladimir Varennikov, is a retired Lieutenant General in the Russian army, an Afghan war veteran and also a Rodina deputy in the Russian Parliament (Duma).[8]


This article incorporates material from Russian Wikipedia

  1. ^ Barry, Ellen (May 8, 2009). "Valentin I. Varennikov, Retired Soviet General Who Tried to Topple Gorbachev, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2009.
  2. ^ Международная Лига защиты человеческого достоинства и безопасности Archived 2014-02-14 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Valentin Varennikov,
  4. ^ a b Gleijeses, Piero (2013). Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991. United States: The University of North Carolina Press. pp. 231–235. ISBN 978-1469609683.
  5. ^ Cornwell, Rupert (12 May 2009). "Valentin Varennikov: Soviet general who helped lead the attempted coup against Gorbachev (Obituary)". The independent. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Соболезнования Д. А. Медведева Archived 2008-08-10 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]