Arvīds Pelše

Arvīds Pelše (Russian: А́рвид Я́нович Пе́льше, Arvid Yanovich Pelshe; February 7 [O.S. January 26] 1899 – May 29, 1983) was a Latvian Soviet politician, functionary, and historian.

Arvīds Pelše
Arvids Pelse
Chairman of the Party Control Committee of the Central Committee
In office
8 April 1966 – 29 May 1983
Preceded byNikolay Shvernik
Succeeded byMikhail Solomentsev
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Latvia
In office
25 November 1959 – 15 April 1966
Preceded byJānis Kalnbērziņš
Succeeded byAugusts Voss
Full member of the 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th Politburo
In office
8 April 1966 – 29 May 1983
Personal details
Born7 February 1899
Iecava Parish, Courland Governorate, Russian Empire
Died29 May 1983 (aged 84)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union


Pelše was born into a peasant family, in "Mazie" farm near Zālīte, Iecava in Bauska District, Latvia to Johan Pelše and his wife Lisa. He was baptized in the village church on March 14 of the same year.[1] As a worker in Riga, Pelše joined the Social-Democratic Party (Bolsheviks) of the Latvian Region in 1915. In 1916 he met Lenin in Switzerland.[2] Between 1914 and 1918, Pelše worked in the workshops of Riga and Vitebsk, as a milling machine operator at the steam-engine making plant in Kharkov, as a punching worker in Petrograd and a loader in the port of Arkhangelsk. On behalf of the local committees he had joined the revolutionary propaganda. He was delegate of the sixth congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party of the Arkhangelsk party organization. He participated in the February Revolution in 1917 and was a member of the famous Petrograd Soviet. He was actively involved in the preparation and conducting of the October Revolution in 1917. In 1918 he joined the Cheka. In 1918, he was sent by Lenin to Latvia to prosecute the revolution there. In 1919 he was attached to the Red Army and later became a manager in the Construction Ministry of the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic. After the defeat of the Soviet Latvian régime he returned to Russia in 1919.[2]

He was a lecturer and political commissar in the Red Army from 1919 to 1929. In 1931 he graduated from the history department of the Moscow Institute of the Red Professoriat, and between 1931 and 1933 he was a graduate student in the institute. At the same time he was an instructor at the Institute of Party History at the Central School of NKVD between 1929 and 1932. Between 1933 and 1937 he was first deputy of the Commissariat of State Farms (Sovkhozes). Between 1937 and 1940 he taught history in the Moscow Higher Educational Institute. In June 1940 he played a leading role in the process of admitting of Latvia into the USSR. From March 1941 to 1959 he served as Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Latvia for propaganda and agitation. During the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1945 he worked to prepare the party and the Soviet cadres to transform Latvia into a communist state.

In 1958 he traveled to Denmark to attend the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of Denmark.

July 1959 to November 1959 marked the purge of all nascent nationalism from the Latvian communist party—about 2,000 of the party leadership and activists were stripped of their posts and privileges.

The Soviets elevated Pelše to First Secretary, replacing the purged Kalnbērziņš on November 25, 1959. In January 1960, Pelše promptly denounced his former (purged) associates for deviating from "the right path in carrying out Leninist nationality policy".[3] From that point forward, the First Secretaries of the Latvian SSR were servile party functionaries, as first embodied by Pelše, whom Latvians regarded as symbols of submissiveness to the Soviets.[4][5]

Pelše was appointed as member of the Central Committee in 1961. That same year, after Yuri Gagarin returned from his space mission, Pelše proposed changing the name of the Latvian capital Rīga but even the Soviet central authorities saw this as too extreme an action.

In 1963, Pelše headed a commission nicknamed the "Pelše Commission", which investigated the assassination of Sergey Kirov. The commission finished its work in 1967.[6]

Pelše served as First Secretary of the Latvian SSR until April 15, 1966. At the 23rd Party Congress in 1966 Pelše addressed his colleagues as follows:

"We will never permit anyone to interfere in our internal affairs but will conduct a determined struggle against any imperialist interference in the affairs of other countries and peoples."

On November 7, 1975 Pelše gave a speech in the ceremony commemorating the 58th anniversary of the October Revolution. In his address Pelše confirmed continuing Soviet support for "fighters for freedom" and "the patriots in Angola."[7]

He was rewarded for his faithful service, being selected by the 23rd Party Congress for full membership to the Politburo of the CPSU, a position he held until his death in May 1983. Pelše was also Chairman of the Party Control Committee, which oversaw the discipline of party members, from 1966 to 1983.

Death and legacy

Pelše's health was failing in his last years. When he did not attend Leonid Brezhnev's funeral in November 1982, rumors spread he had died, but a few days later, on November 23, he appeared in a session of the Supreme Soviet. Another absence which was noticed by the media was in the ceremony marking the centennial of the death of Karl Marx, on March 31, 1983, one month before he died.[8]

He suffered from lung cancer. He also suffered from atelectasis which aggravated the lungs, and worsening cardiopulmonary failure. He died of Cardiac arrest at 5:55, May 29, 1983.[9] Pelše was honoured with a state funeral; His remains lay in state at the House of Trade Unions. On June 2 his ashes were carried by an armoured vehicle to Red Square, with the all the Politburo members stand at the top of Lenin's Mausoleum. After lavish eulogies were read by Soviet leader Yuri Andropov and Politburo member Viktor Grishin, his ashes were laid to rest in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.

Pelše wrote some works on the history of the CPSU and the party, on the history of the revolutionary movement in Latvia, anti-capitalists nationalists, the socialist and communist construction in the country.

He was twice awarded with Hero of the Socialist Labor (1969, 1979), 6 Lenin Order, the Order of the October Revolution and other medals. The Rīga Polytechnic Institute was named for Pelše after he died.

Pelše was married three times. He had two children from the first marriage: a daughter, Beruta (died), and son, Arvik (died during World War II). One son from the second marriage, Tai, (was born in 1930) - a pensioner, and did not support any contacts with his father after the 3rd marriage. The third wife of Pelše was Lidiya, the ex-wife of Stalin's secretary Alexander Poskrebyshev.


  1. ^ LVVA. Ф. 235, Оп. 7, Д. 110, Л. 78 об-79.
  2. ^ a b Who's Who in Russia Since 1900, Martin McCauley
  3. ^ Soviet Disunion
  4. ^ Dreifelds, Juris, Latvia in Transition, Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  5. ^ Bogdan, Henry, Histoire des peuples de l’ex-URSS [History of the Peoples of the former USSR], Perrin, Paris, 1993.
  6. ^ Who Killed Kirov?: The Kremlin's Greatest Mystery, 2000
  7. ^ Angola, national liberation and the Soviet Union, Dr. Daniels Papp
  8. ^ UPI, March 30, "Eight Politburo members gathered today in the Bolshoi Theater to mark the centennial of the death of Karl Marx"
  9. ^ Medical assessment appeared in the Soviet newspapers on May 31, 1983

Further reading

Remeikis, Thomas: “A Latvian in the Politbureau: A Political Portrait of Arvids Pelše.” Lituanus 12:1 (1966) 81-84. ISSN 0024-5089

23rd Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The 23rd Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was elected by the 23rd Central Committee in the aftermath of the 23rd Congress.

The 23rd Congress, the first such event since Nikita Khrushchev's ousting, the Presidium reverted to its previous name; Politburo. Mikoyan and Nikolai Shvernik, the two oldest members, were not reelected to the Presidium, while Arvīds Pelše became the only Presidium débutant. While Brezhnev may have been General Secretary, he did not have a majority in the Presidium; when Kosygin and Podgorny agreed on policy, which was not often the case, Brezhnev found himself in the minority. Brezhnev could only count on three to four votes in the Presidium: Suslov, who often switched sides, Kirilenko, Pelše and Dmitry Polyansky. Brezhnev and Kosygin often disagreed on policy; Brezhnev was a conservative while Kosygin was a modest reformer. Kosygin, who had begun his premiership as Brezhnev's equal, lost much power and influence within the Presidium when he introduced the 1965–1971 Soviet economic reform. After the reshuffling process of the Presidium ended in mid-to-late 1970, the Soviet leadership evolved into a gerontocracy, a form of rule in which the rulers are significantly older than most of the adult population; this meant that fewer up-and-comers were promoted to top party positions.

24th Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The 24th Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was elected by the 24th Central Committee in the aftermath of the 24th Congress.

25th Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The 25th Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was elected by the 25th Central Committee in the aftermath of the 25th Congress.

26th Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The 26th Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was elected by the 26th Central Committee in the aftermath of the 26th Congress.


Arvid, Arved, Arnvid or Arvydas is a male given name, most common in Scandinavia but also in Persia and Lithuania. In Scandinavia it is derived from Old Norse Arnviðr and means "forest of eagles". Arvid is a royal male name that is composed of words with the meanings "king" and legend. In Old Persian Arvid is derived from Arya + veid means "Aryan knowledge".People named Arvid include:

Arvid Andersson (disambiguation), various Olympic Games competitors

Arvid Carlsson (1923–2018), Swedish scientist and Nobel laureate

Arvid Hanssen (1932–1998), Norwegian journalist, newspaper editor, poet, novelist and children's writer

Arvid Harnack (1901–1942), German jurist, economist, and resistance fighter in Nazi Germany

Arvid Horn (1664–1742), Swedish soldier, diplomat and politician

Arvid Järnefelt (1861–1932), Finnish writer

Arvid Johanson (1929–2013), Norwegian newspaper editor and politician

Arvid Knutsen (1944–2009), Norwegian footballer and coach

Arvid Lindman (1862–1936), Swedish rear admiral, industrialist and politician

Arvid Lundberg (born 1994), Swedish ice hockey defenceman

Arvid Nyholm (1866–1927), Swedish-American painter

Arvid Pardo (1914–1999), Maltese diplomat, scholar and university professor

Arvid Posse (1820–1901), Prime Minister of Sweden from 1880 to 1883

Arvid Stålarm the Younger (c. 1540 or 1549–1620), Swedish noble and soldier

Arvid Storsveen (1915–1943), Norwegian organizer of XU, the main intelligence gathering organisation in occupied Norway during World War II

Arvid Trolle (c. 1440–1505), Swedish magnate and politician

Arvid Wittenberg (1606–1657), Swedish count, field marshal and privy

Arvīds Pelše (1899–1983), Soviet Latvian politician and government functionary

Arvydas Sabonis (born 1964), President of Lithuanian basketball federation. Former famous basketball player, NBA hall of fame

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (born 1989), Swedish YouTuber, famous for being the most subscribed channel since 2013


Arvīds is a Latvian masculine given name and may refer to:

Arvīds Bārda (1901–1940), Latvian footballer

Arvīds Brēdermanis (1900–1970), a Latvian official and founder of the Latvian Scouting movement

Arvīds Immermanis (1912–1947), Latvian cyclist and Olympic competitor

Arvīds Jansons (1914–1984,) Latvian conductor

Arvīds Jurgens (1905–1955), Latvian footballer, ice hockey, basketball and bandy player

Arvīds Ķibilds (1895–1980), Latvian track and field athlete

Arvīds Ozols-Bernē (1888–19??), Latvian track and field athlete

Arvīds Pelše (1899–1983), Latvian Soviet politician, functionary, and historian

Arvīds Reķis (born 1979), Latvian ice hockey defenceman

Augusts Voss

Augusts Voss (Russian: Август Эдуардович Восс; 30 October 1919 in Omsk Governorate – 10 February 1994 in Moscow) was a Soviet politician and party functionary of Latvian and German origin. Before World War II he worked as a school teacher. In 1940 he was mobilized into the Red Army and served as a politruk. From 1945 he served as a party apparatchik in Latvia. From 1966 till 1984 he was First Secretary (later: General Secretary) of the Communist Party of Latvia and member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1971 till 1990. From 1984 till 1989 he was Chairman of the Soviet of Nationalities (of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR). Voss understood Latvian, but did not use it publicly. He did not return to Latvia and died in Moscow in 1994, where he is also buried.

Central Committee elected by the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The 26th Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was elected by the 26th Congress, and was in session from 1981 until 1986. It elected, at its 1st Plenary Session, the 26th Politburo, the 26th Secretariat and the 26th Party Control Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Central Control Commission of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The Central Control Commission (Russian: Комитет партийного контроля, Komitet Partiynogo Kontrolya) was a supreme disciplinary body within the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Its members were elected at plenary sessions of the Central Committee.

Communist Party of Latvia

Communist Party of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Komunistiskā partija, LKP; Russian: Коммунистическая партия Латвии) was a political party in Latvia.

Fyodor Kulakov

Fyodor Davydovich Kulakov (Russian: Фёдор Давыдович Кулаков) (4 February 1918 – 17 July 1978) was a Soviet-Russian statesman during the Cold War.

Kulakov served as Stavropol First Secretary from 1960 until 1964, immediately following Nikita Khrushchev's ouster. During his First Secretaryship in Stavropol, Kulakov met Mikhail Gorbachev; Kulakov became Gorbachev's mentor, and when he left his Stavropol First Secretaryship to enter national politics, Gorbachev took over his former office. Kulakov was elected to several important seats in the 1960s. In 1971, he was elected to the Political Bureau (Politburo). He became a leading figure of Soviet leadership, and impressed Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to such an extent that Western commentators believed that Kulakov would become Brezhnev's successor. This did not happen since Kulakov died in 1978, four years before Brezhnev.

Geography of Latvia

Latvia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea on the level northwestern part of the rising East European platform, between Estonia and Lithuania. About 98% of the country lies under 200 m (656 ft) elevation. With the exception of the coastal plains, the ice age divided Latvia into three main regions: the morainic Western and Eastern uplands and the Middle lowlands. Latvia holds over 12,000 rivers, only 17 of which are longer than 100 km (60 mi), and over 3,000 small lakes, most of which are eutrophic. The major rivers include the Daugava, the Lielupe, the Gauja, the Venta and the Salaca. Woodlands cover around 52% of the country (Pine - 34%, Spruce - 18%, Birch - 30%). Other than peat, dolomite, and limestone, natural resources are scarce. Latvia has 531 km (330 mi) of sandy coastline, and the ports of Liepāja and Ventspils provide important warm-water harbors for the Baltic coast.

Area of Latvia is larger than the area of many European countries (Albania, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia or Switzerland). Its strategic location has instigated many wars between rival powers on its territory. As recently as 1944, the USSR granted Russia the Abrene region, which Latvia contested after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.


Iecava is a village on the via Baltica in Iecava municipality, in the Zemgale region of southern Latvia. The village has a population of around 9,500.

Although the village's Latvian name has always been Iecava, internationally it was known by its German name Gross Eckau until the beginning of the 20th century. It was the scene of a victory over Russian forces by Prussian troops fighting for Napoleon during his invasion of the Russian Empire and was also the scene of fighting during the Second World War German retreat from the Soviet Union.

Iecava lies 40 km south of Riga and 23 km north of Bauska and was mentioned in historical documents as early as 1492.

South of the city centre lies a park around the former manor of Count Peter Ludwig von der Pahlen, of which only the foundation walls and some yard buildings remain. The French General Marshal MacDonald, who commanded the Prussian troops who were fighting as part of the Grand Armée, occupied the Gross-Eckau castle during the Napoleonic War with Russia.The church of Iecava dates from the 17th Century but was damaged in various wars and incidents from the Battle at Gross-Eckau 7 July 1812 to the Second World War and a 1972 fire.

Prominent Latvians born there include Friedrich Wilhelm Matisohn (1871-1913) and Arvīds Pelše (1899-1983).

In addition to farming, the town supports manufacturing enterprises including vegetable oil and white spirits.

Latvian Riflemen

The Latvian Riflemen (Latvian: Latviešu strēlnieki, Russian: Латышские стрелки) were originally a military formation of the Imperial Russian Army assembled starting 1915 in Latvia in order to defend Baltic territories against Germans in World War I. Initially the battalions were formed by volunteers, and from 1916 by conscription among the Latvian population. A total of about 40,000 troops were drafted into the Latvian Riflemen Division.

Latvians in Russia

Latvians in Russia are a small ethnic minority scattered across various regions of Russia. According to the 2010 census, 18,979 people in Russia identified themselves as ethnic Latvians, down from 28,520 in 2002.

May 29

May 29 is the 149th day of the year (150th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 216 days remaining until the end of the year.

Mikhail Solomentsev

Mikhail Sergeyevich Solomentsev (Russian: Михаи́л Серге́евич Соло́менцев; 7 November [O.S. 24 October] 1913 – 15 February 2008) was a high-ranking Soviet politician. He was born near Yelets and graduated from the Leningrad Technological Institute in 1940. Solomentsev was a leading Communist party functionary in Kazakhstan during 1962–1964 and was in charge of the Rostov-on-Don obkom from 1964–1966. He served as a secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the years 1966–1971. Solomontsev was Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian RSFR starting from 1971 and ending in 1983. He sat in the Politburo from 1983 until he was sacked by Mikhail Gorbachev five years later.

Pļaviņas Hydroelectric Power Station

The Pļaviņas Hydroelectric Power Station has the largest hydroelectric power plant in the Baltics and one of the biggest in the European Union. It is located in Aizkraukle on the Daugava River. It has ten individual water turbines with an installed total capacity of 894 MW.The construction aroused an unusual wave of protest in 1958. Most Latvians opposed the flooding of historical sites and a particularly scenic gorge with rare plants and natural features, such as the Staburags, a cliff comparable in cultural significance to the Lorelei in Germany. The construction of the dam was endorsed in 1959, however, after the purge of relatively liberal and nationally oriented leaders under Eduards Berklavs and their replacement by Moscow-oriented, ideologically conservative cadres led by Arvīds Pelše.

The plant was put into full operation in 1968. In 1991–2001, six additional turbines were added to the original four, thus increasing the capacity to 868.5MW. Reconstruction and overhaul of the units between 2007 and 2010 increased both the efficiency of the plant and its power output.The complex is operated by Latvenergo.

Events (1964–1982)
Events (1982–1985)
Politburo members
National economy
Brezhnev's family

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