Dmitry Yazov

Dmitry Yazov
Дми́трий Я́зов
Marshal Dmitry Yazov.jpg
Marshal Yazov in 2013
Minister of Defence
In office
30 May 1987 – 22 August 1991
Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov
Valentin Pavlov
Preceded by Sergei Sokolov
Succeeded by Yevgeny Shaposhnikov
Personal details
Born (1924-11-08) 8 November 1924 (age 95)
Omsk Oblast, Soviet Union
Nationality Soviet/Russian
Other political
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Military service
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Branch/service Soviet Army
Russian Ground Forces
Years of service 1941–1994
Rank Marshal
Battles/wars World War II
Soviet–Afghan War

Dmitry Timofeyevich Yazov (Russian: Дми́трий Тимофе́евич Я́зов; born 8 November 1924) is the last Marshal of the Soviet Union to be appointed (on 28 April 1990) before the fall of the Soviet Union. He is the only Marshal of the Soviet Union to be born in Siberia. A veteran of the Great Patriotic War, Yazov is the last surviving Soviet Marshal and the only military marshal not to have been awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.


In 1971–1973, he commanded the 32nd Army Corps in the Crimean region of the Odessa Military District. In 1979–1980, Yazov was commander of the Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia. He was commanding the Far East Military District in the northern summer of 1986, when, according to Time magazine, he made a favourable impression on General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, which led to later promotions. He held the post of Soviet Defence Minister from May 1987. From June 1987 to July 1990, Yazov was a candidate member of the Politburo.[1] He was a key part of Black January. Yazov was responsible for deployment of Russian OMON commando units to Latvia and Lithuania in early 1991. During the August Coup of 1991, Yazov was a member of the State Emergency Committee, for which he was removed from his post by Gorbachev. During the Yeltsin period, Yazov was prosecuted and acquitted in 1994.

Yazov spent 18 months in Matrosskaya Tishina. According to the magazine Vlast' No. 41(85) of 14 October 1991 "...from the prison contacted the President with a recorded video message, where repented and called himself "an old fool"". Yazov denies ever doing so. He did accept the amnesty offered by Yeltsin, stating that he was not guilty. He was dismissed from the military service by Presidential Order and awarded a ceremonial weapon. He was awarded an order of Honor by the President of Russian Federation. Yazov later worked as a military adviser at the General Staff Academy.

Despite his selection by Gorbachev for the Defence Minister's position, William Odom, in his book The Collapse of the Soviet Military, repeats Alexander Yakovlev's description of Yazov as a "mediocre officer", "fit to command a division but nothing higher".[2] Odom suggests Gorbachev was only looking for "careerists who would follow orders, any orders".

In March 2019, Yazov was tried in absentia and convicted of war crimes by a Lithuanian court for his role in the military crackdown in Lithuania in January 1991, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Russia denounced the trial as politically motivated and refused to extradite Yazov.[3]

In popular culture

Yazov appears in Tom Clancy's Cold War espionage thriller The Cardinal of the Kremlin in his capacity as Defence Minister and the superior of the titular spy Colonel Filitov.

Awards and honors

President Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Yazov on his 90th birthday, 8 November 2014

Soviet Union

Russian Federation


  • Order of Red Banner (Afghanistan)
  • Order of "Friendship of Peoples" (Afghanistan)
  • Medal "For the strengthening of friendship in Arms" (Bulgaria)
  • Order of Che Guevara (Cuba)
  • Order of Red Banner (Czechoslovakia)
  • Scharnhorst Order (East Germany)
  • Medal "20 years of independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan"
  • Medal "30 years of Victory over Japan" (Mongolia)
  • Medal "40 years of Khalkhin Gol Victory" (Mongolia)
  • Medal "50 Years of the Mongolian People's Revolution" (Mongolia)
  • Order of Civil Merit, 1st class (Syria)



  1. ^ "Dmitry Yazov". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  2. ^ Odom, 1998, p. 111
  3. ^ "Lithuania convicts Russians of war crimes under Soviet rule". BBC News. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Sergei Sokolov
Minister of Defence of Soviet Union
Succeeded by
Yevgeny Shaposhnikov