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Chernenko - In Power

1981 - 2nd Hero of Socialist LaborAn extraordinary Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, held on February 13, 1984, elected Konstantin Chernenko the general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, and on April 11, 1984 he was elected chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR by the 1 st session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the 11th convocation.

When he became General Secretary at age seventy-two, Konstantin Chernenko was in poor health and unable to play an active role in policy making when he was chosen, after lengthy discussion, to succeed Andropov. But Chernenko's short time in office did bring some significant policy changes. The personnel changes and investigations into corruption undertaken by the Andropov regime came to an end. Chernenko advocated more investment in consumer goods and services and in agriculture. He also called for a reduction in the CPSU's micromanagement of the economy and greater attention to public opinion.

Stalin was rehabilitated as a diplomat and a military leader, and there was discussion of returning the name Stalingrad to the city whose name had been changed back to Volgograd during the anti-Stalinist wave of the 1950s. As soon as Konstantin Ustinovich took the chief state post in the Soviet Union, he began to actively rehabilitate both Stalin and his dictatorship, and those associates of the "leader of the peoples" who suffered as a result of Khrushchev's debunking of the cult of personality. Chernenko's plans for the rehabilitation of Stalin, in particular, assumed that by May 9, 1985, Volgograd would be returned the name Stalingrad, a resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU "On the correction of the subjective approach and the excesses that took place in the second half of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s when assessing the activities of IV Stalin and his closest associates. " In addition to the restoration of Vyacheslav Molotov in the "Chernenkovsky" period, Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva was invited and lived until the autumn of 1986.

Chernenko believed that Khrushchev's revelations about the cult of Stalin's personality and the criminal persecution of high-ranking officials of the state and party bodies that began after the 20th Congress of the CPSU caused irreparable damage to the country. First of all, ideologically. The Secretary-General was sure that if one of the highest persons should be punished, it should be done as under Joseph Vissarionovich. That is, certainly not with loud publicity in the press.

That is why under Chernenko, practically all the loud criminal investigations initiated by Andropov even under Brezhnev were closed down. Active investigations and repressions against various kinds of corrupt officials of the Brezhnev era, begun under Andropov, were not stopped even under Chernenko. So, already with him was the former head of the Yeliseyevsky Sokolov's shop was shot, the former Minister of Internal Affairs NA Shchelokov committed suicide, Yuri Churbanov was prosecuted and so on. But he suspended active investigations and repressions against various kinds of corrupt officials of Brezhnev's time, started under Yuri Andropov. In fact, the "Uzbek case" was discontinued, an investigation into the former Interior Minister Nikolai Shchelokov (later it was continued), a "house arrest" from Galina Brezhneva was lifted in the "diamond case".

The one major personnel change that Chernenko made was the firing of the chief of the General Staff, Nikolay Ogarkov, who had advocated less spending on consumer goods in favor of greater expenditures on weapons research and development.

During the time of K.U.Chernenko, several failed projects were undertaken: the reform of the school, the turning of the northern rivers, the strengthening of the role of trade unions. Under him, the Day of Knowledge was officially introduced as a holiday (September 1, 1984).

KGB repression of Soviet dissidents also increased. In June 1983, Chernenko made a programmatic report "Actual issues of the ideological and mass-political work of the party." In it, in particular, Konstantin Ustinovich criticized amateur pop groups with a repertoire of "doubtful properties" that "bring about ideological and aesthetic damage." This report was the beginning of a large-scale struggle against independent music performers in 1983-84, mainly with Russian rock performers. During this period, the musicians became popular so-called "apartment", during which they gathered in apartments with friends and gave concerts to a very limited number of listeners. Speech at the "apartments" and similar amateur concerts was equated with illegal entrepreneurial activities. Chernenko criticized the performers of Russian rock, equating their performances with illegal business activities that violated Roskoncert's monopoly, and threatened imprisonment.

Under Chernenko, a post-Brezhnev and post-Maoist detente began in relations with the PRC, but relations with the United States remained extremely tense. Although Chernenko had called for renewed détente with the West, little progress was made toward closing the rift in East-West relations during his rule. The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, retaliating for the United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. In the late summer of 1984, the Soviet Union also prevented a visit to West Germany by East German leader Erich Honecker. Fighting in Afghanistan also intensified, but in the late autumn of 1984 the United States and the Soviet Union did agree to resume arms control talks in early 1985.

One of Chernenko's decisions was the restoration of the 94-year-old Vyacheslav Molotov in the party. Stalin's comrade-in-arms was 21 years older than the general secretary. The people immediately appeared jokes about the fact that Konstantin Ustinovich is preparing a successor for himself.

The ascension of Konstantin Chernenko as the new General Secretary of the CPSU was a pivotal event influencing a Soviet shift towards a policy of the "iron fist" with respect to Afghanistan. Chernenko came closest to trying to win a military victory in Afghanistan, both owing to his personal inclinations and his desire to win for himself at least one triumph before succumbing to his emphysema.

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Page last modified: 03-07-2018 19:20:24 ZULU