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Yakov Alexandrovich Malik (Russian:
Яков Александрович Малик) (6 December
[O.S. 23 November] 1906 – 11 February 1980) was a Soviet diplomat. Malik was the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations from 1948 to 1952, and from 1968 to 1972.
At the time of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 82 on 25 June 1950, Malik was boycotting the presence of a Nationalist Chinese representative. His absence enabled the resolution to pass unanimously with a 9-0 vote.
On the floor of the United Nations on 23 June 1951, he proposed an armistice in the Korean War between China and North Korea on one hand, and South Korea, the United States, and other United Nations forces on the other.
Malik told U.S. delegates to the United Nations, apparently without sarcasm, that he wished the United States would invite the Soviet Union to join NATO because he feared it was beginning to become an issue between the two powers.
Malik is also well known to give the USSR reasons for the occupation of Czechoslovakia at the Security Council in August 1968. He vetoed the 2 resolutions regarding the invasion (resolution requesting the liberation of the arrested Czechoslovak politicians and the removal of the communist armies from Czechoslovakia and the resolution requiring the selection of Special Envoy to Czechoslovakia).
Jacob Malik grew up in the shadow of the whip. He was eleven when the Red revolution engulfed his native Kharkov. He belonged to that Russian generation "without umbilical cord," which, in Arthur Koestler's words, "had no traditions and no memories to bind it to the old, vanished world ... to the vain conceptions of honor and . . . decency . . . Honor was to serve without vanity, without sparing oneself, and until the last consequence . . ."
The new Soviet state put Malik through Kharkov University, then sent him on to the Institute for Foreign Affairs at Moscow State University. For two years he served as deputy chief of the Foreign Press Service in Moscow. Then he went on to Tokyo (1939-45), rising from counselor to ambassador.
Before the Nazi invasion of Russia, Malik expedited shipments of raw rubber from Southeast Asia and lubricants from Japan via the trans-Siberian Railway to Germany. Later, he had a hand in keeping Japanese jingoists from getting Japan into war against the U.S.S.R. On Aug. 9, 1945, he presented Russia's declaration of war to the Tokyo government. U.S. power had already beaten Japan; next day Malik received Tokyo's offer of surrender. By the winter of 1946, Malik was Deputy Foreign Minister in Moscow. In 1948 he took over from Gromyko as chief delegate to the Security Council. His informal talks with the U.S.'s Dr. Philip Jessup at Lake Success were the prelude to Russia's lifting of the Berlin blockade (TIME, May 2).
Malik has two sons, Yuzi (18) and Eugene (11), who are now in a Moscow school. His chubby wife and daughter Svetlana (5) are with him in New York (their summer retreat is the Glen Cove, L.I. estate rented by the Soviet Union).
In Tokyo and later at Lake Success, Malik was regarded as amiable and even witty—for a Soviet diplomat. Once he cracked that a severe U.S. winter was "undoubtedly due to the cold war." When Vyacheslav Molotov was shifted from the post of Foreign Minister, Malik was asked what it meant. "I don't know," he quipped. "I can't get one of your radio sets to pick up Radio Moscow."
Unlike the bleak-miened Gromyko, Malik could say "No comment" smilingly to the press (he once said it 30 times, each time with a smile, in one brief interview). A more loquacious exchange, with a New York Herald tribune reporter, ran thus:
Malik: You really should learn Russian.
Reporter: I know two words—da [yes] and nyet [no].
Malik: ... All the newspapers here say we only say nyet.
Reporter: Well, in the U.S. the first word we teach our babies is da. Maybe there's a difference between your country and mine.
Malik (grinning): The first word we teach them is nyet.
These days, there seems not an amiable bone left in Malik's body. (His drinking habits seem symbolic. At U.S. parties, Malik used to be a smooth, sociable guest or host, not averse to a cocktail or Bourbon & water. Recently, in the Security Council delegates' lounge, he has stuck to fruit juice or soda water.) Says Norway's Arne Sunde: "Malik is very rude. And he looks as if he believed in his rudeness."
Malik is probably not capable of believing anything he was not taught to believe. Once a couple of years ago, after an affable dinner and a round of brandy, a Western diplomat asked him point-blank why he acted the way he did. Malik hesitated a moment, then calmly replied: "But I must obey my instructions." There seemed to be no cynicism in the answer.
One seasoned U.S. envoy sums up Malik : "Well, he's one of their junior S.O.B.s."