Image source, Tass via Getty ImagesImage caption, Igor Kirillov (right) was given the Order of Honour by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018

Igor Kirillov – the man known as the face and voice of the USSR – has died in Russia aged 89.

Kirillov was Soviet TV's chief newsreader and announcer.

With his trademark delivery – unhurried and calm – he informed viewers of the first sputnik in space, and delivered the communiqués of the Communist Party.

He also anchored all major Soviet set-piece events: from Moscow's Red Square parades to communist congresses. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

  • Soviet Union timeline

When Soviet leaders died – as they seemed to so often – it was Igor Kirillov who provided commentary for their burials in the Kremlin Wall.

But by the late 1980s, TV news was changing around the world: newsreaders were no longer professional announcers – they were journalists.

It was the same in the Soviet Union, and Igor Kirillov's face began to disappear from TV screens.

I remember him telling me in 1990 that what was happening in broadcasting was a calamity. The new anchors, he said, were in too much of a rush, adding "Russians don't like people talking quickly."

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