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1982-1984 - Yuri Andropov

No director or former director of the KGB had ever been appointed General Secretary. The only previous secret police chief to come close was Lavrenti Beria, who was arrested and shot during the power struggle that followed Stalin's death. Similar fates befell Beria's two predecessors. November 1982, the arrival of Yuri Andropov, marked the transfer of power from the hands of the party apparatus to the special services, who had access to all the secrets of the Central Committee and the special folders to which they were not allowed.

By 1982 the decrepitude of the Soviet regime was obvious to the outside world, but the system was not yet ready for drastic change. The transition period that separated the Brezhnev and Gorbachev regimes resembled the former much more than the latter, although hints of reform emerged as early as 1983. Andropov in the pink of health would not have been a good bargaining partner for the USA. He died in February 1984, so he was the General Secretary for no more than 15 months. Chernenko then took over as General Secretary, but he was also in very ill health, and certainly not in a position to negotiate anything. Chernenko died in March 1985 and was replaced by Gorbachev.

Yuri Vladimirovich was married twice: the first wife since 1935, Nina Ivanovna Engalycheva (b. 1915, the daughter of the manager of the state bank), the children of eugenia and Vladimir (the pages of the life of this period of Andropov preferred to hide, most likely because his son was twice convicted). The second wife of Tatyana Filipovna Lebedev, in the second marriage of Andropov two children - Igor and Irina. The son Igor in 1984-1986 was the Ambassador of the USSR in Greece, then the Ambassador of the USSR on special assignments, was married to actress chelmile Chursina. Irina Andreeva was married to Mikhayil Filippov, an actor of the Mayakovsky Theater.

Since 1951 he worked in the apparatus of the Central Committee of the CPSU. From June 1951 to March 1953 - Inspector of the CPSU Central Committee, in 1953 - Head of the sub-department of the CPSU Central Committee. In 1953, Yuri Andropov went to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At first he headed the 4th European Division, which was in charge of relations with Poland and Czechoslovakia. From October 1953 to July 1954 he was an adviser to the embassy, from July 1954 to March 1957 - extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of the USSR in the Hungarian People's Republic.

In 1957-1967 Andropov was the head of the department of the CPSU Central Committee for relations with the communist and workers' parties of the socialist countries. Simultaneously, from November 1962 to June 1967 - Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. In 1967-1982 he was chairman of the State Security Committee under the Council of Ministers of the USSR (since 1978 - the KGB of the USSR). In June 1967, Andropov was elected a candidate member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee.

In May-November 1982 he was Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. At the plenum of the CPSU Central Committee on November 12, 1982, Yuri Andropov was elected general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. Since June 1983, he simultaneously served as chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Andropov was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the 3rd, 6th-10th convocations.

In the early 1980s, in his search for a candidate for a possible successor, Brezhnev stopped at Andropov. By this time, Yuri Vladimirovich was already a mature, highly experienced politician. For a decade and a half he successfully headed the KGB of the USSR. His name was known and respected both in the USSR and abroad. By his qualities, he was ready to take on his shoulders the main responsibility for the destiny of a great power and strove for this goal.

Taking advantage of the sudden death in January 1982 of the second secretary of the Central Committee of Suslov, Brezhnev conducted through the Politburo a decision to transfer Andropov to his place. This step was not easy for the secretary general. Apparently, the Politburo had a strong opposition to the idea of moving up Andropov. Only at the May (1982) Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU he was elected secretary of the Central Committee.

Andropov moved out of the KGB into the powerful Party Secretariat where he was able to challenge Brezhnev's very close ally and protege, Konstantin Chernenko. His replacement as head of the KGB could easily have been the First Deputy Chairman of the KGB, whom we know to have been a longtime Brezhnev ally, but it wasn't. They pulled a regional official - Vitaly Vasilyevich Fedorchuk - out of the Ukraine who had career ties to Andropov, and made him the KGB chief. As a consequence of these and other personnel changes, Brezhnev's control of the KGB, which was essential to any Soviet leader's security, no longer seemed to be assured.

As part of the power struggle in Moscow, Andropov's people propagated the notion that Brezhnev was finished politically and medically and that Andropov was an intelligent liberal whom the United States should welcome as he prepared to assume the leadership from Brezhnev. The fact that Andropov headed the KGB for 15 years and brutally destroyed the dissident movement in the USSR did not prevent elements of the Western media from publicizing this line. Despite all the talk about how Andropov drank scotch and read Western books, he was, after all, the former, and long-time, head of the KGB and the Soviet Ambassador to Hungary who, with then-KGB head Serov, organized the repression of the Nagy Government and the Soviet invasion in November 1956.

Suddenly in the autumn of 1982 in the Central Committee apparatus rumors began to circulate that at the Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the CPSU in November the transition from Brezhnev as Party Chairman was expected. It was said that Brezhnev was persuaded that Andropov, despite all his undoubted merits, had been a seriously ill person for many years. Therefore, he could not take responsibility for the country.

Two days passed between Brezhnev's death on 10 November 1982 and the announcement of the election of Andropov as the new general secretary, suggesting to many outsiders that a power struggle had occurred in the Kremlin. The ascension of Yuri Andropov to the post of Party General Secretary signaled the initial victory of the hardliners over the moderates. His background as Soviet Ambassador to Hungary during the 1956 crushing of the revolt and fifteen years as head of the KGB greatly appealed to the hardliners.

His strong ties with the defense establishment were reflected in his declaration in November 1982 that "the Politburo has considered and continues to consider it mandatory, especially in the present international situation, to provide the Army and Navy with everything they need." In response in December, Defense Minister Ustinov praised the "complete clarity" of Andropov's policies while Army General V. Varrenikov called Andropov's speech "brilliant and deeply meaningful." Similarly, his strong ties with the KGB, which he had headed for 15 years, were seen in the promotions of his former associates to the Politburo (Geydar Aliyev), post of U.S.S.R. Minister of Internal Affairs (Vitaly Fedorchuk), and post of KGB head (Viktor Chebrikov).

His move to the Central Committee Secretariat in May 1982 defused fears of his secret police background. His support for arms negotiations and dtente and ties to Georgi Arbatov showed a moderation that lessened opposition to his rule, as well as the fact that at age 69 he was unlikely to rule for many years.

Unlike Brezhnev, Andropov, in his final days, retained the ability to think clearly. Although he saw only one eye, but per day looked through 400 pages of documents, literary magazines, watched television news programs. It was normal for such a highly educated person who wrote good lyrical verses, knew foreign languages, understood painting, loved classical music.

February 9, 1984, the hour of Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov came. His death caused deep regret and sincere sympathy among the people. The man who certainly was an outstanding politician died.

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Page last modified: 08-01-2019 12:12:34 ZULU