DC, May 25, 2007 - Today the National Security
Archive publishes the second
installment of the diary of one of the key
behind-the-scenes figures of the Gorbachev era--Anatoly
Sergeevich Chernyaev. This document is being published in
English here for the first time.
It is hard to overestimate the uniqueness and importance
of this diary for our understanding of the end of the Cold
War--and specifically for the peaceful withdrawal of Soviet
forces from Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, and the dissolution
of the Soviet Union. The document allows the reader a rare
opportunity to become a fly on the wall during the heady
discussions of early perestroika, and to witness such fascinating
phenomena as how the dying ideology of Soviet-style communism
held sway over the hearts and minds of Soviet society.
In 2004, Anatoly Chernyaev donated the originals of his
diaries from 1972 to 1991 to the National Security Archive
in order to ensure full and permanent public access to his
notes--beyond the reach of the political uncertainties of
contemporary Russia. The Archive is planning to publish
the complete English translation of the diaries in regular
installment covers the year 1986, when the
author becomes Mikhail Gorbachev's foreign policy adviser.
The beginning of the year is marked by radical personnel
changes as Gorbachev moves old Brezhnevite elements away
from the central party organs and replaces them with people
who share his ideas for change. The International Department,
in which Chernyaev begins this year, is in turmoil as is
the international communist movement. Head of the International
Department Boris Ponomarev was replaced in 1986 by former
Soviet Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin.
reflects the admiration Chernyaev felt for Gorbachev and the
spectacular plans for change, both internally and in foreign
policy, which he brought with him. Chernyaev initially compares
Gorbachev to Lenin, but also notes how ideology was losing
its weight in the style and substance of real policy under
the new General Secretary. Domestic issues were the first
priority for Gorbachev-Chernyaev notes that they take up 95%
of the time, even though foreign policy issues appear more
visible in the front pages of the newspapers. One of the first
important battles is in the cultural sphere-erupting into
the open at the Writers Union Congress in the summer of 1986.
Several prominent liberal writers and cultural figures were
given support by Gorbachev and allowed to be published, most
famously Anatoly Rybakov with his Children of the Arbat.
1986 is also the year of a most significant breakthrough
in foreign policy, which determined further progress in
arms control and in Soviet-American relations. On January
15, Gorbachev issues his Program for Elimination of Nuclear
Weapons by the year 2000. Reflecting on this, Chernyaev
notes in his diary that the statement exemplified Gorbachev's
realization that "nobody is going to attack us even
if we disarm totally." It is also the year of Reykjavik,
where Gorbachev and Reagan came came close to agreeing to
eliminate all nuclear weapons. Even though both of them
were unable to grasp that historic opportunity, the sparks
of shared thinking on the immoral nature of nuclear weapons
helped the two leaders work together productively on arms
control and many other pressing issues of world politics,
winding the Cold War down.
By the end of the year, perestroika was in full swing with
sweeping personnel changes at home, and new thinking was
starting to become the hallmark of Gorbachev's foreign policy.
Chernyaev's diary traces the evolution and practical realization
of new thinking in both spheres in 1986 as seen from the
unique perspective of a person working daily by Gorbachev's
Anatoly Sergeevich Chernyaev was born on May 25, 1921 in
Moscow. He fought in World War II beginning in 1941. After
the war, he returned to his studies at Moscow State University
in the Department of History, which he completed in 1948.
From 1950-1958, he taught contemporary history at Moscow
State University. From 1958-1961, Chernyaev worked in Prague
on the editorial board of the theoretical journal Problems
of Peace and Socialism, joining the International Department
in 1961. In 1986, he became foreign policy adviser to the
General Secretary, and later to the first and the last President
of the USSR. A prolific writer, Chernyaev has published
five monographs in addition to numerous articles in Soviet,
Russian, European and U.S. journals.
The National Security Archive takes great pleasure in wishing
a happy birthday to Anatoly Sergeevich, who for years has
been our partner in the mission to fight government secrecy
through glasnost. Anatoly Sergeevich turns 86 today.
The Chernyaev Diary was translated by Anna Melyakova and
edited by Svetlana Savranskaya for the National Security