(b. Biysk, Siberia, 10 Nov. 1933)
Russian; Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs 1990–1 Bessmertnykh graduated from the Moscow Institute of State Relations. His political career started in the United Nations; he was a translator in the Secretariat from 1960 to 1962 and worked for the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs from 1962 to 1966. He then returned to Moscow, working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1970 Bessmertnykh was posted to the Soviet Embassy in Washington and by 1983 had attained the rank of Minister-Counsellor. His fortunes improved after 1985 when Gorbachev came to power and Shevardnadze became Soviet Foreign Minister. He was made Deputy Foreign Minister in 1986, heading the United States and Canada Department and was promoted to First Deputy Foreign Minister in October 1988. In December 1990 he was appointed Soviet ambassador to Washington and then replaced Shevardnadze as Foreign Minister after the latter's resignation in late 1990. During the coup against Gorbachev in August 1991, Bessmertnykh did not openly side with the plotters, nor did he rally to Gorbachev. He chose instead to disappear. When he re-emerged after the failure of the coup, Gorbachev dismissed him and replaced him with Boris Pankin. He became a commentator on diplomatic and strategic issues.