BENEDICTOV Ivan Alekseyevich (23.03.1902-30.07.1983) was born in a postal officer’s family in the village of New Vichuga, Kostroma province. He became a prominent Soviet statesman, who for more than twenty years (from 1937 to 1959) held key management positions in agriculture (mainly in the rank of people’s commissar or minister); a diplomat, ambassador to India (1953, 1959-1967) and Yugoslavia (1967-1971). He has the Doctor’s degree in economic sciences.
His ambassadorial tenure witnessed a lot of significant milestones in development of Soviet-Indian relations: the official visit of N.S. Khrushchev to India in February, 1960; participation in organization of the official visit of J.Nehru and Indira Gandhi to the USSR on September 6-11, 1961; organization of the visit of Yuri Gagarin to India on November 29 – December 7, 1961; organization of the official visit of Leonid Brezhnev to India in December 1961.
At the end of his life Benedictov was especially proud of one of his decisions: “Acting on my own risk, I arranged, probably for the first time in the Soviet history, our purchase of a large plot of land abroad, in New Delhi, as the territory for the Soviet Embassy. Today, the value of land in the Indian capital has risen with tenfold increase, and thus we save large sums of foreign currency assets”.
There is one more noteworthy story – the escape of Svetlana Allilueva to the West. In early 1967 Svetlana Allilueva, Stalin’s daughter, came to India to immerse the ashes of her deceased Indian husband in the Ganges. It was her first trip abroad and she was let out for one month upon the decision of the Soviet leadership. Benedictov who had great respect for Stalin made her staying very comfortable. Besides, he managed to extend her staying for one month more which Svetlana spent in her husband’s village. Benedictov was forbidden to extend it any further and had to buy a return ticket for her on March 6, 1967. The day before, on March 5, Stalin’s death anniversary, Svetlana Allilueva had lunch with Benedictov and his wife in the Soviet Embassy. Benedictov without consulting the KGB gave Svetlana her passport which he kept in his personal safe. Next day early morning Svetlana came to the American Embassy located nearby and asked for political asylum. Researchers agree that Svetlana’s escape was spontaneous. Her final decision could have been influenced by the last conversation with Benedictov but nobody knows what it was about. The escape of the Stalin’s daughter entailed an important political consequence – Semichastny, KGB chairman, who was a man of principle and independent from Brezhnev, was removed. Benedictov was transferred from India to Yugoslavia.
Benedictov was awarded with four Orders of Lenin, Order of the October Revolution, two Orders of Red Banner of Labor and a number of medals.