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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RSPP Founder Arkady Volsky, 74, Dies

Itar-TassVolsky speaking with reporters while in Grozny for peace negotiations during the first Chechen war in June 1995.
Arkady Volsky, who is credited with preventing an industrial collapse after the Soviet demise and founded the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, died Saturday in Moscow. He was 74.

He died of complications from leukemia, NTV television reported.

Volsky, a critic of the Yukos affair, was an active player in business and politics until last year, when an internal squabble at the powerful big business lobby, known as RSPP, saw him pushed aside and handed an honorary post.

"Volsky's death is a big loss, not only for the RSPP but for the entire business and political community of the country," Alexander Shokhin, who replaced Volsky at RSPP's helm, said on Ekho Moskvy radio.

Volsky represented a relatively rare breed of the country's political and business leaders who managed to have equally successful careers under Communist rule and during the first wild years of Russian capitalism.

Born in Belarus on May 15, 1932, and raised in an orphanage, Volsky started out at a ZiL car factory as an ordinary worker and eventually became the factory's party boss.

Moving into government, he served as an aide to Soviet leader Yury Andropov in the early 1980s. As an aide, he pressed for the return of Andrei Sakharov from exile in Gorky, now Nizhny Novgorod.

In the late 1980s, he joined the Communist Party Central Committee's division in charge of industry. At the time, he also tried to settle an ethnic and territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. During the 1994-96 Chechen war, he participated in peace talks with rebel leaders.

In 1990, Volsky founded an organization uniting some of Russia's first capitalists. The group later grew into the RSPP.

During the August 1991 coup attempt, Volsky managed to call Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who was under house arrest in Crimea, and confirm that he was not ill, as the nation had been told.

Volsky quit the Communist Party in disgust after the failed coup.

Gorbachev said Saturday that Volsky played a key role in making sure that industry did not collapse completely after the fall of the Soviet Union, Interfax reported.

He praised Volsky for his attempts to establish a dialogue between business and the state.

From 2000, Volsky was also among the few public figures in Russia who dared to criticize publicly the state's legal onslaught on Yukos and its founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Liberal politician Irina Khakamada said she had known Volsky since 1989 and recalled that even though he was a senior Communist official, he had supported private entrepreneurship, Interfax reported.

Condolences also were expressed by President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and former President Boris Yeltsin.

Volsky will be buried at Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery on Tuesday, Interfax reported. A civil memorial will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at ZiL's House of Culture. A church service will be held at the Novodevichy Monastery at 1 p. m. and be followed by the burial.

Volsky is survived by his wife, Lyudmila, a son, a daughter and six grandchildren.