Shevardnadze, the only non-Slavic member of the 13-member ruling politburo, succeeded Andrei Gromyko as foreign minister in July 1985, less than four months after Gorbachev took power. Before becoming foreign minister, Shevardnadze was head of the Communist Party in the Georgian Republic, where he gained a reputation for cracking down on rampant corruption.
In a series of meetings this year with Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Reagan, the white-haired, 59-year-old Soviet Georgian has resolved many of the stickiest issues on the treaty banning medium-range missiles.
The 64-year-old Communist Party propaganda chief is considered one of the chief architects of Gorbachev's effort to make Soviet society more open and democratic.
Yakovlev moved up rapidly in the Communist Party power structure under Gorbachev. He became head of the Central Committee propaganda department in 1985. In January 1987 he became a candidate member of the ruling Politburo and in June was promoted to full Politburo status.
At the October 1986 Reykjavik summit, he led the Soviet negotiating team on regional and humanitarian issues.
The 68-year-old secretary on the Communist Party Central Committee served here as Soviet ambassador for almost a quarter-century, returning to Moscow in 1986. During his tenure Dobrynin gained a reputation as a charming but tough proponent of Soviet views.
He became an expert not only on American foreign policy, but on the workings of American politics and government. Malcolm Toon, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, once said he regarded Dobrynin as "one of the ablest diplomats of the 20th century."
The 64-year-old Akhromeyev, a marshal of the Soviet Army, is the Soviet Union's military chief of staff and a first deputy minister of defense. He was one of the top Soviet negotiators at Reykjavik in 1986, when American and Soviet experts were under orders from Reagan and Gorbachev to narrow their differences on arms control issues. An American negotiator said of Akhromeyev, "he was tough and determined, but he was trying to get an agreement."
Akhromeyev replaced Nikolai Ogarkov as chief of staff in 1984. Ogarkov was thought to have been demoted because of public statements demanding the best technology for the military.
Dubinin, a 57-year-old career diplomat, was the surprise choice last May to succeed Dobrynin as ambassador to Washington.
Dubinin speaks fluent Spanish and had been ambassador to Spain for seven years before being transferred to the United Nations in early 1986. However, he had been there only for two months when he was sent to Washington.
He also served as a counselor in the Soviet Embassy in Paris and headed the Soviet Foreign Ministry's first European department from 1968 to 1971.
Before going to the United Nations he had never had an assignment in the United States and sources at the United Nations said he spoke only limited English. SOURCE: Associated Press