Obituary: Nikolai Pollack-Polianov

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The Independent Online
Nikolai Pollack (Nikolai Pollack- Polianov), journalist, born Vienna 4 July 1921, died Moscow 14 January 1993.

NIKOLAI Pollack-Polianov worked for Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev as a journalist specialising in international politics. For 40 years he was at the centre of Kremlin affairs, one of the half-dozen top brass who also included Alexei Adzhubei, Khrushchev's son-in-law and one-time editor-in-chief of Izvestia.

Pollack-Polianov was born in Vienna and grew up in the family of his maternal aunt, whose husband, Evgeni Pollack, was a Hungarian Communist and one of the organisers of the 1919 short-lived Soviet Hungarian republic under Bela Kun. In 1924 the Pollacks escaped to the Soviet Union. From Moscow Evgeni acted as editor- in-chief of Vorwarts, a German Communist newspaper until it was closed in 1933 by Hitler. Nikolai Pollack attended Moscow University's historical and chemical faculties, but never graduated.

In 1941 he was invited to work on the foreign desk of Komsomolskaya Pravda ('Young Communists' Truth'), an unheard-of appointment for a 20-year-old third- year student. In 1943 he lectured in international affairs at senior governmental establishments. No record exists of his service in the army during the Second World War, exemption from which in the Soviet Union was given only to three categories: military scientists, top Communist brass or the NKVD (later KGB) servicemen.

In 1945 Pollack became a senior journalist and editor in foreign affairs at Sovinformburo, the government information office, writing under the name Nikolai Polianov. Two years later Stalin's Politburo sent him to Berlin to work on Tagliche Rundschau, the Berlin paper controlled by the Soviet Kommandatura. While there he began writing for Izvestia. In 1950 he returned to Moscow and joined the newspaper's foreign desk as a staffer; he worked there as a senior journalist and editor until his death. It was not until 1954, 18 months after Stalin's death, that Pollack-Polianov became a member of the Communist Party. Because his passport described him as Hungarian, he never became editor-in-chief: he was always deputy editor-in-chief.

A document dated 31 December 1961 in his file at Izvestia, countersigned by Khrushchev's son-in- law, the then editor-in-chief, records that Pollack-Polianov was appointed as the newspaper's European correspondent by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. His colleagues dubbed him the 'Kremlin correspondent'. As such he accompanied Khrushchev and later Brezhnev to international conferences. Living mainly in Berlin, he travelled the world and met and became befriended such international leaders as Archbishop Makarios.

A colleague of his on Izvestia recalls that Pollack-Polianov knew the mind of the Supreme Command so well that he could dictate a leading article to the printer without sub-editing. He also wrote some 20 books on the economic problems of Communism.

(Photograph omitted)