Diamonds for apartheid. Soviet cooperation with De Beers: New pragmatism or evolution of an old partnership?


Yury Skubko


The article examines a long period of Soviet secret cooperation with South African diamond cartel De Beers in the geopolitical and economic interests of the leadership of USSR. Initially based on the sale of treasures, confiscated by bolsheviks from Russian aristocracy, bourgeoisie and church institutions, this cooperation served to promote the “world revolution” project and later to help Soviet industrialization. When mass production of Yakut diamonds started in the 1950s, the Soviet government and De Beers confidentially agreed on a new and more profound cooperation (аbout 10 three-year agreements) to guarantee exports of Soviet uncut diamonds via a switch-dealer company in London. Such partnership (patronized by then Soviet prime minister Alexei Kosygin) provided an important hard currency flow helping both sides to avoid sanctions and modernize their economies and particularly to develop the Soviet diamond-brilliant complex. Pragmatism prevailed over ideology and political risks.


USSR, South Africa, diamonds, De Beers, secret agreements economic cooperation


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