The article is based on the prosopography of people formerly employed by International Departments of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and their recollections of studying at the main school for experts in International Relations – the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO). The author relies on official biographies and interviews with former employees of International Departments, as well as on memoirs of other MGIMO students in the 1940s and 1950s. Thus the article presents a brief history of MGIMO in the first decade of its existence, but more important, it reconstructs the process of formation of the new post-Stalinist cohort of diplomats and experts that defined Soviet foreign policy. The article discusses the ethos of this cohort (described as “Hussars’ spirit”), their corporatism, their worldview, and the formative influence of their social and educational background. The author argues that the young men born to the families of Soviet white–collar workers, educated in Stalinist high schools, coming mostly from central districts of Moscow, formed a fairly homogeneous group. This group lobbied the interests of their fellow MGIMO graduates in the Soviet establishment of the Khrushchev and especially Brezhnev epochs. They tried to offset the influence of their superiors who belonged to the older generation of bureaucrats formed under Stalin, who hampered the careers of this younger cohort. Less ideologically motivated than their superiors, members of the MGIMO cohort also had fewer illusions about perestroika, and therefore succeeded in assimilating into the post-Soviet Russian diplomacy. They brought with them the traditions of the apparatchiks of the fallen empire, including prejudices and complexes in regard to neighboring states.


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pp. 145-186
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