Yakovlev, Aleksandr Nikolayevich [key], 1923–2005, Russian historian and diplomat, b. Korolevo, studied Columbia Univ. (1958–59), Academy of Social Sciences, Moscow (Ph.D., 1960). Seriously wounded in World War II, he joined (1944) the Communist party and rose in its ranks, assuming top Soviet media posts during the 1960s. His criticism of Russian nationalism led to a demotion, and he was posted (1973–83) as ambassador to Canada. Returning to Moscow, he was Mikhail Gorbachev's closest and most influential adviser and became (1987) the Politburo member responsible for mass media. Throughout the 1980s he was a powerful advocate for the economic, political, and social reforms of perestroika and glasnost. A champion of democratic change before and after the fall of the Soviet Union, Yakovlev also encouraged press freedom and played a key role in publicizing the horrors wrought by Lenin and Stalin.
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