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Valentin Pavlov

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Valentin Pavlov
Валентин Павлов
Prime Minister of the Soviet Union
In office
14 January 1991 – 22 August 1991
Preceded by Nikolai Ryzhkov
Succeeded by Ivan Silayev
Minister of Finance
In office
17 July 1989 – 26 December 1990
Preceded by Boris Gostev
Succeeded by Vladimir Orlov
Chairman of the State Committee on Prices
In office
15 August 1986 – 7 June 1989
Preceded by Nikolai Glushkov
Succeeded by Vyacheslav Senchagov
Personal details
Born (1937-09-27)27 September 1937
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died 30 March 2003(2003-03-30) (aged 65)
Moscow, Russian Federation
Nationality Soviet and Russian
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Alma mater Moscow Finance Institute

Valentin Sergeyevich Pavlov (Russian: Валентин Серге́евич Павлов; 27 September 1937 – 30 March 2003) was a Soviet official who became a Russian banker following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Born in the city of Moscow, then part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Pavlov began his political career in the Ministry of Finance in 1959. Later, during the Brezhnev Era, he became head of the Financial Department of the State Planning Committee. Pavlov was appointed to the post of Chairman of the State Committee on Prices during the Gorbachev Era, and later became Minister of Finance in Nikolai Ryzhkov's second government. He went on to succeed Ryzhkov as head of government in the newly established post of Prime Minister of the Soviet Union.

As Prime Minister from 14 January 1991 to 22 August 1991 Pavlov initiated the 1991 Soviet monetary reform, commonly referred to as the Pavlov reform, in early 1991. Early on he told the media that the reform was initiated to halt the flow of Soviet roubles transported to the Soviet Union from abroad. Although ridiculed at the time, the statement was later proven to be true. In June the same year, Pavlov called for a transfer of power from the President of the Soviet Union to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. When that failed, he joined a plot to oust Gorbachev. In August, he participated in the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, which tried to prevent the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Pavlov was arrested for his involvement in the coup and went on to work in the banking sector in post-Soviet Russia. He was succeeded as premier by Ivan Silayev.

Early life and career

Born in Moscow on 27 September 1937, Pavlov graduated from the Moscow Finance Institute in 1958. He started his nomenklatura (bureaucratic) career as a government economist; he started working for as an official of the Ministry of Finance in 1959, and became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1962.[1] Early in his career he also worked for the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Pavlov started working for the State Planning Committee in 1979, and became a member of the State Planning Committee's board in 1981.[2] He held the office as head of the State Planning Committee's Finance Department, the department which oversaw all aspects of the country's planned economy.[1] He served as First Deputy Minister of Finance in Boris Gostev's ministry from January to August 1986.[2]

Pavlov was appointed Chairman of the State Committee on Prices on 15 August 1986, and retained that post until 7 June 1989.[2] Throughout the period, and later as Minister of Finance, Pavlov supported the centralised price reform proposal posited by Nikolai Ryzhkov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers.[3] He succeeded Gostev to become Minister of Finance in Ryzhkov's government in 1989 and his time in the post was considered uncontroversial, even though Lira Rozenova, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Prices, was not elected to the post of Chairman of the State Committee for her advocacy of Pavlov-backed plans for centrally administered price reform.[4] He was the only minister in Ryzhkov's Government who was also a member of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers.[5]

Along with Eduard Shevardnadze – Soviet Foreign Minister – Pavlov was the only nominee from Ryzhkov's second government to be overwhelmingly elected by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.[6] As Minister of Finance, Pavlov was supportive of the marketisation of the Soviet economy,[7] having overseen a rapid increase in the Soviet money supply and the increase in inflation it caused. Pavlov also set the exchange rate for the rouble against the American dollar on the Soviet black market.[8] In 1993 he proudly admitted that during his tenure as Minister of Finance, and later Prime Minister, he had deceived several Western banks and creditors by lying about the Soviet Union's gold reserves.[9] In 1989, Pavlov gathered together enough information on the errors and omissions of Ivan Silayev, the future Soviet Premier and Russian SFSR Premier, to weaken his position as Deputy Premier. Silayev never forgave Pavlov and relations between the two grew even more icy when Pavlov became Soviet Premier.[10]

Prime Minister

Coat of arms of the Soviet Union.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Soviet Union

Following the resignation of Nikolai Ryzhkov and his second government, Pavlov was elected to the new position of Prime Minister as a compromise candidate,[11] and became chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers.[9] He and his two First Deputy Prime Ministers, Vladimir Velichko and Vitaly Doguzhiev, were approved by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on 14 January, while approval for the majority of his ministers followed within a few weeks.[12] Pavlov was considered a conservative upon his election as Prime Minister,[13] and the Soviet press described him as a "bold and complex man" who was against full marketisation but who believed that the Soviet Union was even more oppressive towards workers than even the most advanced capitalist societies.[14] One of his first actions as Prime Minister was to move the headquarters of the Soviet Government – the Cabinet of Ministers – from the Moscow Kremlin to the former headquarters of the State Committee for Construction to strengthen his position.[15]

Pavlov monetary reform

The Soviet monetary reform of 1991, commonly referred to as the Pavlov reform, was the last monetary reform prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Initiated on 22 January 1991, it was intended to withdraw money from circulation for reallocation to the production of consumer goods, which were in short supply.[16] In a speech, Pavlov stated that the reason for the withdrawal was the government's belief that money was being sent to the Soviet Union from abroad, fuelling inflation. Although ridiculed by the Soviet press at the time, three years later the truth of Pavlov's statement was verified.[17] Mikhail Gorbachev then signed a presidential decree ordering the Soviet financial system to stop accepting and exchanging banknotes issued in 1961. The directive also included 50-rouble and 100-rouble banknotes issued in 1991. On 23 January 1991, the government began restricting monthly bank deposit withdrawals to 500 rubles with the official explanation that this was to freeze the income of corrupt officials, capitalists and criminals.[16]

A new 50-rouble banknote issued in 1991 during the Pavlov reform

Under the orders of Pavlov, the Government freed forty percent of prices on 1 January 1991, and introduced sales tax of 5%. Prices of consumer goods, in particular, were now considered free in the sense that negotiation became possible between producers and the distributor.[18] According to Philip Hanson in his book, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet economy: An Economic History of the USSR from 1945, Pavlov's reform was undermined by the Union Republics who failed to follow Pavlov's orders, along with the widespread existence of local monopolies, which tended to have their own definition of luxury goods and as a result imposed higher prices on such items.[19]

Soviet citizens had only three days from 23–25 January to exchange their old 50 rouble and 100 rouble banknotes for the new currency. Exchange could be postponed, but only through specialised government commissions. Due to this short exchange window, long queues formed in front of Soviet savings banks, even though it was also possible to exchange money at workplaces and post offices. This reform also dealt a crippling blow to Soviet citizens who had saved their money and could not move fast enough to get it exchanged; some lost as much as 15,000–30,000 rubles overnight.[16]

In the end the reform proved unsuccessful. The government only managed to withdraw 14 billion rubles from circulation of the country's money supply against an intended target of 81.5 billion rubles. As a result, the Pavlov reform did not put an end to inflation. Prices for items including food and transport rose by 100–300 percent, while the Soviet standard of living decreased sharply and the state budget deficit increased by an estimated 20–30 percent of GNP. In the aftermath of the reform, inflation exceeded the 50 percent mark every month.[16]

Coup attempt

In June 1991, Pavlov discovered that Gorbachev planned to replace him as Prime Minister. In response, he arrived at the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union "visibly nervous",[20] and in his report to the Supreme Soviet, he was forced to tell delegates of the faltering state of the Soviet economy. However, Pavlov blamed this on the ongoing War of Laws between the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union and the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR),[20] which, he argued, could be resolved by introducing a state of emergency across the entire Soviet Union, or at least in certain economic sectors.[21]

According to Pavlov, the union's problems remained insoluble as long as Gorbachev retained so much power and had limited time to address important issues. To break the impasse, Pavlov called for a transfer of power from the President of the Soviet Union to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, even creating a five-point resolution to that end for the legislature to consider. Pavlov received support for the idea from the Soyuz parliamentary faction leader Viktor Alksnis, who called for an immediate vote on the issue. However, several members of Soyuz also demanded a statement by the KGB and the Ministry of Defence to comment on the proposal. In retrospect, Alksnis notes that this resolution could have become a coup d'état had Pavlov consulted with them earlier.[20] According to historian Jerry F. Hough, Pavlov's program "was not directed as much at Gorbachev as at [Boris] Yeltsin".[22]

By the afternoon, the majority of Soyuz members favoured an immediate vote. The Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, Anatoly Lukyanov, had already departed for Novo Ogarevo to take part in constitutional negotiations and he promised to tell Gorbachev about the vote. In his place stood Ivan Laptev, a pro-Gorbachev reformer, who did not trust Lukyanov and tried to stall the vote by demanding[20] a statement from the KGB, Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence. According to Laptev, the mood was such that if a vote had been taken Pavlov would have won.[23] At the time, both the Soviet secret police and the military establishment in general wanted to strengthen the authority of the Soviet Government and so they too supported Pavlov's program.[22] Soyuz, through a vote, was able to increase the powers of the Cabinet of Ministers, and gave the institution the right of legislative initiative.[24]

Shortly afterwards, Jack Matlock, United States ambassador to the Soviet Union, told Gorbachev of the possibility of a coup attempt against him,[23] and the Soviet leader became worried when Anatoly Chernyaev informed him of mysterious troop movements outside Moscow. On 21 June, four days after Pavlov's speech, Gorbachev addressed the Supreme Soviet and told delegates that there were no differences in opinion between him and Pavlov. Even when he had been able to secure his position, Gorbachev's power within the system was already faltering,[25] although he succeeded in getting the enhanced powers previously given to the Cabinet of Ministers reversed.[24] The power struggle between Gorbachev and Pavlov was not over, with Gorbachev promising Yeltsin and Nursultan Nazarbayev that Pavlov, along with Dmitry Yazov, Minister of Defence, and Vladimir Kryuchkov, the Chairman of the KGB, would be removed from their posts following the signing and ratification of the New Union Treaty.[26]

August Coup

The 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, commonly referred to as the August Coup, was prompted by the slow disintegration of the Soviet Union that resulted from Gorbachev's reform policy and Yeltsin's drive towards an independent Russia. The New Union Treaty being prepared called for further decentralisation of power to the republics, which weakened the government's already tenuous hold on the economy. Pavlov received a draft of the New Union Treaty on 12 August at a Security Council meeting and managed to get it published in the Moscow News on 14 August.[27]

Opposing the decentralisation stance taken in the treaty, Pavlov was one of the key players in the establishment of the State Committee for the State of Emergency in August 1991. Pavlov's inclusion in the committee has been used to demonstrate its unwillingness to revert to pre-Gorbachev policies. The Committee's main goal was to ensure that the Soviet Union continued as a highly centralised union state.[28] The Emergency Committee was led by Gennady Yanayev, Vice President of the Soviet Union, Interior Minister Boris Pugo, Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov and other hardliners[29] who were determined to take action to oust Gorbachev.[28] Vladimir Kryuchkov, the KGB Chairman, had told Pavlov of the coup on 18 August, one day before it began. He was asked by Kryuchkov to meet his co-plotters at the Moscow Kremlin, where on 19 August, he and his co-conspirators appeared on live television and told the Soviet people that Gorbachev was indisposed. As the day wore on it soon became apparent that Pavlov had been drinking since he issued several contradictory orders and repeated himself. In retrospect he admitted that he had been drinking with his son the day before. On the same day, his fellow plotters decided to depose Pavlov, sending him to his dacha where his wife took care of him. As with all the others, Pavlov was arrested following the collapse of the coup.[1] Shortly after Pavlov was hospitalised with hypertension whilst remaining in custody.[30] He was released on bail in January 1993 and granted amnesty by the Russian State Duma in 1994.[1]

Later life and death

Pavlov's gravestone at Pyatnitskoye cemetery

After his release from custody, Pavlov became a director of the commercial bank Chasprombank between 1994 and 1995. He resigned at the request of the bank's Board of Directors who informed him that they had decided "to provide him an indefinite leave of absence."[31] In February 1996, shortly after his resignation, the bank's license was revoked for violating the banking laws set up by the Central Bank of Russia.[32] Pavlov then worked as an advisor to Promstroibank between 1996 and 1997, and in 1998 also became a vice president of the American firm Business Management Systems.[33] He worked both as vice president of both the Free Economic Society and the International Academy of Management, and later headed a department of the International Union of Economists.

Pavlov died in Moscow on 30 March 2003, and was buried on 2 April at Pyatnitskoye cemetery.[34][35]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Montgomery, Isobel (4 April 2003). "Valentin Pavlov: Gorbachev's prime minister and figurehead of the 1991 Russian coup". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Staff writer. "Silaev, Ivan Stepanovich". Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help); Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hough 1997, p. 131.
  4. Huskey 1992, p. 88.
  5. Shevchenko, Iulia (2004). The Central Government of Russia: From Gorbachev to Putin. Ashgate Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-7546-3982-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Huskey 1992, p. 87.
  7. Hough 1997, p. 334.
  8. McCauley 1998, p. 191.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Murray 1995, p. 109.
  10. Kvint, Vladimir Lʹvovich (1993). The Barefoot Shoemaker: Capitalizing on the New Russia. Arcade Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-55970-182-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Brown 1997, p. 153.
  12. Murray 1995, p. 191.
  13. Kort, Michael (2010). The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath. M.E. Sharpe. p. 396. ISBN 978-0-7656-2387-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Huskey 1992, p. 113.
  15. Huskey 1992, p. 114.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Staff writer (2 February 2011). "The 1991 Monetary Reform in the Soviet Union". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 3 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Reddaway, Peter; Glinski, Dmitri (2001). The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism against Democracy. US Institute of Peace Press. pp. 273–274. ISBN 978-1-929223-06-0.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Hanson 2003, p. 232.
  19. Hanson 2003, p. 233.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Murray 1995, p. 110.
  21. Murray 1995, p. 215.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Hough 1997, p. 435.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Murray 1995, p. 111.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Brown 1997, p. 290.
  25. Murray 1995, p. 112.
  26. Murray 1995, p. 116.
  27. Hough 1997, p. 426.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Lorimer, Doug (1997). The Collapse of Communism in the USSR: Its Causes and Significance. Resistance Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-909196-73-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Hough 1997, p. 429.
  30. Nadel, Laurie (1992). The Kremlin Coup. Millbrook Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-56294-170-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Президент Часпромбанка ушел в отставку: Валентин Павлов снова меняет работу. Kommersant (in Russian). 2 September 1995. Retrieved 3 April 2011. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Книга памяти: "Часпромбанк" (in Russian). Banki. Retrieved 3 April 2011. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Павлов, Валентин Сергеевич (in Russian). Archontology. Retrieved 3 April 2011. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. УМЕР ПОСЛЕДНИЙ ПРЕМЬЕР-МИНИСТР СССР. Utro (in Russian). 31 March 2003. Retrieved 3 April 2011. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Valentin S. Pavlov, 66; Soviet Prime Minister Led Failed 1991 Coup". Los Angeles Times. 1 April 2003. Retrieved 27 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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