Military Wiki
Dmitry Yazov
Дми́трий Я́зов
Yazov in 2009
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 November 8, 1924(1924-11-08) (age 98)
Omsk Oblast, Soviet Union
Nationality Soviet/Russian
Other political
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Military service
Allegiance Soviet Union/Russian Federation
Service/branch Soviet Army/Russian Ground Forces
Years of service 1941–1993
Rank Marshal
Battles/wars World War II, Soviet war in Afghanistan

Dmitry Timofeyevich Yazov (Russian: Дми́трий Тимофе́евич Я́зов; born November 8, 1924) was the last Marshal of the Soviet Union to be appointed before the collapse of the Soviet Union (on April 28, 1990). He was the only Marshal of the Soviet Union to be born in Siberia. A veteran of the Great Patriotic War, Yazov is currently one of two living Marshals as of 2013 (the other being Vasily Ivanovich Petrov), and the only one not to have been awarded Hero of the Soviet Union.

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 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. In 1987–1990, Yazov was a candidate for membership in Politburo. 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 purged 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".[1] Odom suggests Gorbachev was only looking for "careerists who would follow orders, any orders".

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.

Honours and awards

Foreign awards:

  • Order of the Red Banner (Afghanistan)
  • Order of "Friendship of Peoples" (Afghanistan)
  • Medal "40 years Khalkhin Golskoy Victory" (Mongolia)
  • Medal "50 Years of the Mongolian People's Revolution" (Mongolia)
  • Scharnhorst Order (GDR)
  • Medal "20 years of independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan"
  • Order of Red Banner (Czechoslovak SSR)

Religious award:

  • Order of St. Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy (Russian Orthodox Church)


  1. Odom, 1998, p. 111
Political offices
Preceded by
Sergei Sokolov
Minister of Defence of Soviet Union
Succeeded by
Yevgeny Shaposhnikov

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