Gennady Fedosov: Diplomat who promoted friendship with the West

 

Many people in the arts, commercial, political and sporting life of London will not have forgotten the witty, charming and erudite Gennady Fedosov, who was the Soviet Union’s minister for cultural Affairs in the Soviet Embassy in London. During a fraught period of the relationship between Britain and Russia, Fedosov was a beacon of friendship and understanding.

As the chairman of the Parliamentary Sports Group, I was deeply involved with Denis Howell, who had been Sports Minister from 1964-70, in persuading Charles Palmer, Secretary of the British Olympic Association, to defy Margaret Thatcher’s strident attempts to force a boycott of the 1984 Moscow Olympics.

I was present at a meeting when Fedosov played a pivotal role in persuading the BOA that they would be properly welcomed in Russia. It is not fanciful to argue that without Fedosov, and his Kremlin contacts, not only would there have been no gold medals for Coe, Ovett, Wells and others, but more significantly, in the absence of the American athletes the Olympic movement might have been fatally injured.

Gennady Fedosov was born in Rogachev, Belarus. As a toddler in 1941, at the outset of “The Great Patriotic War”, he escaped with his mother to Moscow. After the vagaries of wartime schooling, his talent won him a place at the Institute of Foreign Languages, subsequently transferring to the Diplomatic Service.

Wonderfully fluent in English, and the American idiom, Fedosov was posted to Washington, working with Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the US for more than a quarter of a century. When my wife and I were in Moscow for the Zoria, or Tattoo, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Kremlin walls, with searchlight scenes from Russian history, which had been co-organised by his son Dmitry, we visited Fedosov and his wife Eugenia – a marvellous cook and successful hostess at the London Embassy – Fedosov reflected: “Dobrynin was not only a marvellous boss, but he also saved the world. On account of his close friendship with Nikita Kruschev and his Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and the respect in which he was held by them, you have to be thankful to Dobrynin for persuading the Kremlin to step back from the brink during the Cuban Missile Crisis.” During his time in the US, Fedosov had honorary citizenship conferred upon him by Kansas City and New Orleans.

Posted to London in 1984, Fedosov found his first Ambassador, Viktor Popov  (who had been Rector of the Soviet Diplomatic Academy) congenial. His successor, Leonid Zamyatin, was “a different kettle of fish”, Fedosov’s words demonstrating his command of colloquial English.

As a young officer, Zamyatin had worked directly under Stalin and had been a hard-line spokesman as head of the Kremlin’s press department and of the official Soviet news agency, Tass. Fedosov did not care for him personally – though he was charming when he came to lunch with us at our home in Scotland – and believed that he thwarted Fedosov’s deepest aim in public life, the understanding of and friendship with the West, a cause which he pursued alongside his great friend, the cosmonaut Valentina Tereskova.

Fedosov leaves his wife and two sons, one of whom, Dmitry, is the world’s greatest scholar on the centuries-old relationship between Scotland and Russia and the editor of the diaries of General Patrick Gordon (a commander of the Tsar’s armies in the latter part of the 17th century), which rank with those of Pepys and Evelyn.

Gennady Fedosov, diplomat: born Rogachev, near Minsk, Soviet Union 8 May 1937; married Eugenia Samas (two sons); died Moscow 11 September 2012.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness