Andrei Yanuarovich Vyshinsky


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(b. Odessa, 11 Dec. 1883; d. New York, 22 Nov. 1954)

Russian; Chief Procurator of the USSR 1935–9, Minister of Foreign Affairs 1949–53 Vyshinsky was of Polish extraction, the son of middle-class parents. He was educated as a lawyer. He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1902, and then the Mensheviks when the party split in 1903. He did not join the Bolsheviks until 1920. From 1921 to 1928 he was an academic lawyer at Moscow University, attaining the position of rector. From 1928 to 1931 he was head of the higher education section of the People's Commissariat for Education. Vyshinsky first came to public prominence in 1928 at the Shakhty trial in which a number of engineers were convicted on trumped-up charges of sabotage. He was either head of the court or chief prosecutor in subsequent show trials, notably the Industrial Party trial of 1930; the Metropolitan-Vickers trial of 1933; at the trials of Zinoviev and Kamenev in August 1936; of Marshal Tukhachevsky in 1937; and of Bukharin, Rykov, and Yagoda in 1938. In all these cases Vyshinsky distinguished himself by his abusive, even vicious rhetoric. From 1935 to 1939 he was Chief Procurator of the USSR and in 1939 was elected member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. From 1939 to 1955 he was a member of the Central Committee. In 1940 he moved to the post of Deputy People's Commissar (i.e. Deputy Minister) of Foreign Affairs. In 1949 he succeeded Molotov as Minister of Foreign Affairs, holding this post until Stalin's death in 1953. His vitriolic performances at the United Nations were reminiscent of his behaviour at the show trials and served to exacerbate East–West relations. After Stalin's death he was demoted to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, but remained the Soviet representative at the UN.

Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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