Childhood & Early Life
Hailing from a working class family of St. Petersburg, Russia, Alexei Kosygin was the son of Nikolai Kosygin, a technician at Lessner plant, and Matrona Alexandrovna.
He lost his mother when he was very young. In 1919, he became a part of the Labor Army whose leader was Trotsky. After joining the Soviet Communist Party in 1921, he received necessary support for his education from the party as a reward of his loyalty and commitment.
In 1924, he completed his graduation from the Leningrad Cooperative Technical Institute. In the same year, he started a small British-Russian joint-venture for digging and selling Siberian gold. He continued his business till 1927.
After returning to St. Petersburg, he attended Leningrad Institute of Textile Industry from 1930 to 1935. He graduated as an Engineer from this institute.
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After completing his education, he served for the Chair of Leningrad City Department of Industry. In 1937, he took-up the responsibility of the director of the October Spinning Mill.
In the year 1938, he became Mayor of Leningrad. After becoming minister of the textile industry in 1939, he achieved the position of the Vice-Chairman of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Economic Council.
To save the civilians of Leningrad (encircled by the Nazi Wermacht and the Finnish Army) during the summer of 1941, he developed “Road of Life”, an ice transport route across Lake Ladoga.
For his great contribution in evacuating the civilians of Leningrad, he was made the Premier of the Russian Federation. From 1943 to 1946, he served as the Prime Minister of Russia.
The turning point of his career came while working as Joseph Stalin’s minister of finance in 1948.
In 1949, he was blamed for misappropriation of funds and stealing gold and jewels. Later, he was absolved from this accusation due to his loyalty and hard work.
From 1949 to 1953, he was the Minister of Light Industry. After Stalin’s death in 1953, Kosygin’s rank was reduced. However, within a brief period he acquired the position of an official of the State Planning Committee in 1957.
Besides achieving an important position in the committee, he became a candidate member of the Politburo. Gradually, he was promoted to the State Planning Committee chairmanship.
In 1960, he acted as Khrushchev’s First Deputy Premier. As a part of his job, he travelled to several countries for trade purpose. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, he endeavoured to improve relations between the Soviet Union and the United States as the Soviet spokesman.
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After Khrushchev’s removal from the Politburo in 1964, he took over Khrushchev’s position. During this time, he faced criticism for his unrealistic economic plan and producing excessive consumer goods.
In 1965, he introduced an economic reform, known as the “Kosygin reform”. Through this, he tried to increase the quantity of production and incentives for managers and workers.
After receiving invitation from the US Government, he attended the Glassboro Summit Conference in June 1967 but both sides failed to reach any agreement on limiting anti-ballistic missile system.
His reform also aimed to free managers from the centralized state bureaucracy. During its testing phase, the reform was applied to 336 enterprises in light industry. During the signing of the Tashkent Declaration in 1966, he acted as a mediator between India and Pakistan.
In 1970, along with Gromyko, he signed the 1970 Moscow Treaty. The relation between Soviet and Iraq strengthened after he signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the government of Iraq in 1972.
In 1973, he proposed an economic reform to weaken the central ministries and to empower the regional authorities at republican and local levels. Through his 1979 reform, he tried to increase the central government’s economic involvement.
Personal Life & Legacy
He got married to Claudia Andreyevna Krivosheina in 1927 and had a child Lyudmila Alexeevna, with her.
In October 1980, he was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack.
After he breathed his last, none of his Politburo colleagues or former aids visited him. As he passed away on the eve of Brezhnev’s birthday, the information of Kosygin’s death was officially spread only after three days so that people could remain festive.
This influential statesman was popular for his ability to memorize large volumes of data. Moreover, he had an expertise in mathematical calculations without using any computing device.
In 1980, when this powerful personality was hospitalized after illness, he was forced to write his resignation. According to witnesses, a few minutes before his death, he was mumbling the numbers of the new five-year plan for Soviet’s economic development.