Last USSR-era political veteran leaves Russian senate
Nikolay Ryzhkov, a 94-year-old veteran Russian lawmaker, has resigned his position as representative of Belgorod Region in the upper chamber of the parliament. The now-former senator was the last senior member of the Communist Party of the USSR to hold public office in modern Russia.
The politician told journalists on Tuesday that he had realized he should step down early due to his age. Valentina Matvienko, the chair of the Federation Council, offered her former colleague an advisory role in her office, which he intends to take, he added.
Ryzhkov’s term was terminated last week at his own request, as the chamber reshuffled its ranks and committee appointments, following elections in dozens of Russian regions last month. Ryzhkov was the oldest serving senator, having represented Belgorod Region since 2003.
In 1991, he ran for president and lost to Boris Yeltsin. Later, he was elected to the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, where he remained until he took the senatorial seat.
Ryzhkov started his political career as a Soviet factory manager, which paved his way into the Heavy Industry Ministry and to the top of the executive ranks. His role in the Communist Party grew in parallel.
In the second half of the 1980s, he served as chairman of the council of ministers, as well as member of the Politburo, the powerful party leadership body. Due to his position as the most senior Soviet minister, Ryzhkov was closely involved in the Soviet efforts to deal with the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster.
Today, Ryzhkov is the second-oldest living ex-Politburo member, after Vadim Medvedev, who is just six months older.