Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastny

(b. 1924)

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(b. Grigorevka, 15 Jan. 1924; d. Moscow, 12 Jan. 2001)

Ukrainian; chairman of the KGB 1961–7 Semichastny left school with a secondary education. His political career started when he became First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Youth League (Comsomol) in 1947. In 1950 he was transferred to Moscow into the organization of the Soviet Comsomol. It was there that he became a client of his fellow Ukrainian, Aleksandr Shelepin. From 1958 to 1961 he succeeded Shelepin as First Secretary of the Comsomol, head of the Central Committee's Department of Party Organs for the Union Republics, and chairman of the KGB. From 1959 to 1961 he was also Second Secretary of the Azerbaijani Party. By the time he became head of the KGB in 1961 he had the reputation of being a hard-line opponent of the West and Western culture. He was well-known for allegedly having made a crude denunciation of the writer Boris Pasternak in 1958. His appointment at the young age of thirty-seven and his lack of political status might, however, have been intended to stress the reduced status which the KGB had had since Stalin's death in 1953. Semichastny and Shelepin were involved in the leadership plot which brought down Khrushchev in 1964. Both were opposed to Khrushchev's relatively pro-Western policies. In 1966 Semichastny was seriously embarrassed by the defection of Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva to the West followed by a bungled attempt to kidnap her and bring her back to the Soviet Union. In May 1967 he was removed as head of the KGB and replaced by Yuri Andropov. He was demoted to deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Council of Ministers. In 1981 Semichastny was further demoted. He reappeared in public in the Gorbachev era in order to criticize Brezhnev.

Subjects: Politics.

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