Ivan Stepanovich Silayev (Russian: Ива́н Степа́нович Сила́ев; born 21 October 1930) is a former Soviet and Russian politician. He served as Prime Minister of the Soviet Union through the offices of chairman of the Committee on the Operational Management of the Soviet economy (28 August - 25 December 1991) and chairman of the Inter-republican Economic Committee (20 September - 14 November 1991). Responsible for overseeing the economy of the Soviet Union during the late Gorbachev Era, he was the last head of government of the Soviet Union, succeeding Valentin Pavlov.
After graduating in the 1950s, Silayev began his political career in the Ministry of Aviation Industry in the 1970s. During the Brezhnev Era he became Minister of Aviation Industry, a Central Committee member, and Minister of Machine-Tool and Tool Building Industry. When Nikolai Tikhonov's Second Government was dissolved, Mikhail Gorbachev appointed him deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers in Nikolai Ryzhkov's First Government. He left all posts in the central government in 1990 to focus in his post as chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian SFSR. He faced several cabinet difficulties during his tenure, and supported the majority of Boris Yeltsin's policies. Having opposed Yeltsin's secessionist policies during his tenure as Soviet Premier, he was removed from his post as Russian SFSR Premier and succeeded in his post by acting Premier Oleg Lobov.
When he became Premier of the Soviet Union on 28 August 1991, Silayev opposed some of Yeltsin's policies which led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. After Silayev resigned as Soviet Premier, he continued to work for the Yeltsin administration as the Permanent Representative of Russia to the European Community until his resignation in 1994. During the 2007 legislative election Silayev ran as a candidate for the Agrarian Party of Russia.
Early life and career
Silayev was born on 21 October 1930 in Baktyzino, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, and graduated from the Kazan Aviation Institute in 1954 as a mechanical engineer. In 1959 Silayev became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). During his tenure at the Gorky Aviation Plant (Gorky is now Nizhny Novgorod), where he started in 1954, he advanced from the lowest level to become the plant's foreman from 1971 to 1974. Silayev then served as Deputy Minister of Aviation Industry, and was later appointed Minister of Aviation Industry in 1981 in Nikolai Tikhonov's first government. He served briefly as Minister of Machine-Tool and Tool Building Industry of the Soviet Union from 1980 to 1981. At the 26th Congress Silayev was elected to the Central Committee (CPSU). In 1985, during Mikhail Gorbachev's rule, Silayev was appointed deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers and chairman of the Machine-Building Bureau of the Council of Ministers in Nikolai Ryzhkov's first and second government. He served in these posts until he was appointed Premier of the Russian SFSR in 1990.
The election of a Chairman of the Council of Ministers – Government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), literally Premier of the Russian SFSR, was not considered a very important event; the Premier was elected following the election of the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR, the Supreme Soviet's deputy chairman, and after a debate on Russian agriculture. Boris Yeltsin, the chairman of the Russian SFSR Supreme Soviet, was ordered to select candidates for the post of Premier to the Supreme Soviet. Mikhail Bocharov, a successful businessman and leader of the cooperative movement, rector of the Moscow Aviation Institute Yuri Ryzhkov, and Silayev were chosen as the candidates. Ryzhkov withdrew his candidacy before the first round of voting was finished. During the election Bocharov revealed his radical economic reform plan to the Supreme Soviet deputies; in it industry would be privatised, and subsidies to unprofitable enterprises would cease in a 100 Days reform package. Silayev did not have any similar economic reform plans, but was widely considered to be Yeltsin's favourite for the post.
In the first round of voting Silayev earned 119 votes, while Bocharov earned 86 votes. To be elected to the post, a candidate needed to win over half of the vote; neither Silayev or Bocharov succeeded in this. Seeing that Silayev was Yeltsin's favourite, and had won more votes than Bocharov, Silayev ran unchallenged in the second election round, and was thus elected by a large margin.
Gorbachev tried to break the Silayev–Yeltsin alliance but to no avail. In 1989, Valentin Pavlov, the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union from 14 January to 28 August 1991, had gathered together enough information on the errors and omissions of Silayev to weaken his position as Deputy Premier. Silayev never forgave Pavlov and relations between the two grew colder when Pavlov became the Prime Minister.
Silayev repeatedly opined that if he ever was given conflicting instructions by the Premier of the Soviet Union and Yeltsin, he would always "observe the laws of the RSFSR", meaning he would obey Yeltsin. During his tenure as Premier, Silayev was never the de facto leader of the government cabinet, and was loyal to Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet. In contrast to his predecessor, Aleksandr Vlasov, Silayev tried to modernise the Russian Government. Silayev decided to break with the old Soviet nomenklatura system of electing cabinet members by electing members using an "objective" and "scientific" basis. To accomplish this, Silayev asked professional psychologists to interview candidate cabinet members. Only 14 of the 200 cabinet candidates were recommended for a post in the government cabinet; even so, several of the candidates were given a post in the new government. All candidate members were selected by either Silayev, Yeltsin, or the Supreme Soviet.
Silayev's government lacked ideological unity,Oleg Lobov and Gennadii Kulik. In November 1990 Grigory Yavlinsky resigned from his cabinet post, citing the failure of the 500 Days Programme. However, some commentators believe Yavlinsky resigned because of frequent conflict between him and other cabinet members. RSFSR Minister of Finance Boris Fyodorov resigned on 5 December 1990, and accused the First Deputy Premiers of taking important financial decisions on behalf of the ministry and him as minister behind his back. Lobov, the First Deputy Premier in charge of regional development, had become a de facto leader of the cabinet. Lobov was Yeltsin's favourite, and tried to weaken Silayev's position within the cabinet. With the consent of the Supreme Soviet Silayev established a 16-member Presidium for the cabinet.
and several conservative members were elected to the cabinet in July 1990, among them
Another problem facing Silayev was that the Supreme Soviet was usurping the power of the executive branch by strengthening the legislative branch. To accomplish this the Supreme Soviet established duplicated entities, such as the Committee for Mass Media, which duplicated the functions of the Ministry of Mass Media. Viktor Kisin, the Minister of Industry, told the press that the only employee of his ministry was in fact himself. In July 1990 Silayev agreed to create parallel executive-legislative administrative bodies.
In December 1990 the Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian SFSR entrusted Silayev and his government to create a new plan for economic reform. The plan was finished in April 1991, and was referred to as the "Yeltsin–Silayev Plan". The plan was heavily influenced by the 500 Days Programme, and supported privatisation and the marketisation of the economy. The reform plan was criticised by an official from the State Committee on Economic Reform of the central government; he called the plan "a statement of intents"; instead of an economic reform, he called it a "manifesto". A Supreme Soviet deputy noted the proposed reform lacked real statistical insight. Even so, the proposed reform received a majority in a Supreme Soviet vote; Yeltsin's supporters knew that his economic reform proposal had to be accepted before the July presidential election. Following the July presidential election the Russian government resigned, and the post of premier was once again up for election. Silayev had strong competitors for the post, such as Yurii Skokov, but won the election.
The State Committee for the State of Emergency failed to arrest Silayev or any other high-standing Russian state officials during the August Coup. Silayev was one of several leading Russian SFSR politicians who flew to Gorbachev's summer house in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup. On 24 August the Russian SFSR Council of Ministers issued a decree transferring central government authority over economic and communications ministries to the RSFSR Government, and took control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and KGB archives. With the central government's authority greatly weakened, Gorbachev established a four-man committee, led by Silayev, that included Grigory Yavlinsky, Arkady Volsky, and Yuri Luzhkov, to elect a new Cabinet of Ministers. This committee was later transformed into the Committee on the Operational Management of the Soviet economy (COMSE), also chaired by Silayev, to manage the Soviet economy. On 28 August 1991 a Supreme Soviet temporarily gave the COMSE the same authority as the Cabinet of Ministers, and Silayev became the Soviet Union's de facto Premier. COMSE was quickly surpassed in authority by the Inter-republican Economic Committee (IEC). Its function was to coordinate economic policy across the Soviet Union. As Chairman of both COMSE and the IEC, Silayev presided over a quickly disintegrating Soviet Union. Further disintegration of the USSR led to the transformation of the IEC into the Interstate Economic Committee of the Economic Community (coordinates relations between the union republics and the republics that seceded from the USSR). On November 14 Silaev was appointed Chairman of the IEC - Prime Minister of the Economic Community.
When he first took office, Silayev wanted to reduce the powers of the central government and give more powers to the Soviet Republics. This view changed; he demanded that Yeltsin give back much of the authority of the central government which he had usurped following the August Coup. In this he failed, and his position as Russian SFSR Premier was severely weakened as a result. Oleg Lobov, Silayev's First Deputy Premier, led the anti-Silayev faction in the Russian SFSR Council of Ministers and managed to oust him on 26 September 1991; Lobov succeeded Silayev as acting Premier of the Russian SFSR. Silayev, as overseer of the economy, was given the task of initiating economic reforms in the Soviet Union in a way that suited both the central government and the Soviet republics. Silayev tried to maintain an integrated economy while initiating the marketisation of the economy. On 19 December COMSE was dissolved by a presidential Russian SFSR decree. Оn 25 December 1991 Gorbachev announced his resignation from the post of President of the USSR in connection with the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States and accordingly, the union government ceased to exist.
On 18 December 1991 Silayev became the Permanent Representative of Russia to the European Community in Brussels; he resigned from this post on 7 February 1994. In late 1994 Silayev became the President of the Machine-Building Association of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which consisted of more than a hundred civilian and military enterprises and associations, mostly of Russian origin. He became a member of the Ecological Movement "Cedar" in 1995. Since 1998, he has been President of Industrial Machine, an industrial and financial group; he has simultaneously headed the National Committee, which promotes economic cooperation with Latin America. On 26 September 2002 Silayev became Chairman of the Russian Union of Mechanical Engineers. His wife died on 18 March 2006. During the 2007 legislative election Silayev ran as a candidate for the Agrarian Party, but failed to get elected.
Silayev has been awarded an Order of Lenin on two different occasions—one in 1971, and another during a closed session of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in 1975, when he was also awarded a Hero of Socialist Labour. He was awarded a Lenin Prize in 1972. In 1981 he was awarded the Order of the October Revolution and in 2002 the National Prize of Peter the Great. On 19 October 2000 and on 21 October 2005 Silayev was awarded the Diploma of the Government of the Russian Federation.
- ^ Указ Президента СССР от 20.09.1991 N УП-2599 "О назначении Силаева И.С. Председателем Межреспубликанского экономического комитета"
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