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1984-1985 - Konstantin Chernenko

General Secretary Brezhnev was incapacitated in 1980, but did not die until 1982. No one was really in charge of the Soviet Union and all decisions were made by a collective leadership in committee fashion. Yuri Andropov, who replaced Brezhnev in 1982, was also in poor health and died in 1984. He was replaced by the elderly and ill Konstantin Chernenko on February 13, 1984.

The biography of this Soviet secretary general has the largest number of "blank spots". Chernenko created the "blank spots" himself, using his official position. Having headed the General Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU in the 1960s, he gained access to the most important party secrets, including the biographies of the leaders. Having established the strictest system of admission to work with documents of the archive, Chernenko tried to ensure that his most biased and ambiguous pages of his own biography disappeared forever.

Brezhnev began in the summer of 1965 to make extensive changes in the Central Committee apparatus, and several close associates of Brezhnev took command of important departments. Brezhnev's influence in the moves was particularly clear regarding the two departments most directly involved in administering internal Central Committee affairs -- the General Department and the Administration of Affairs. In the Administration of Affairs, Georgiy Pavlov replaced K.P. Chernyayev as chief. Konstantin Chernenko became chief of the General Department officially in July 1965, having served since 1960 as chief of Brezhnev's secretariat on the Supreme Soviet Presidium and (probably) of Brezhnev's personal staff on the Central Committee Secretariat. During the 1970s, attendance at Politburo meetings was mandatory for members who had no other pressing engagements that would excuse them from attending. Of course, General Department Chief Konstantin Chernenko or one of his deputies would be present as Politburo secretary to record the proceedings.

The most objective characteristic of K.U. Chernenko gave the academician E.I.Chazov: "Having risen at the head of the party and state, Chernenko honestly tried to fulfill the role of the leader of the country. But this was not given to him - and due to the lack of appropriate talent, breadth of knowledge and views, and by virtue of his character. But most importantly, he was a seriously ill person."

Konstantin Ustinovich died after 1 year and 25 days of rule and became the last buried near the Kremlin wall. March 10, 1985. The death of Chernenko ended in a five-year period, during which much of the Brezhnev Politburo passed away (the so-called "era of magnificent funerals"). Chernenko was the oldest of all Soviet leaders who had ever received the post of Secretary General. Mikhail Gorbachev, a representative of the next generation of the Politburo, was elected as his successor on this post the next day.

The "twilight of the general secretaries" culminated after Chernenko died and the comparatively young and dynamic Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. Chernenko gave Gorbachev high party positions that provided significant influence in the Politburo, and Gorbachev was able to gain the vital support of Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko in the struggle for succession.

Chernenko's memory, according to the established ritual, was immortalized, but this again was the last such case. In honor of Chernenko were briefly named the city of Sharypovo and Krasnoyarsk street in the Moscow district of Golyanovo; already in 1988 the city was returned to its historical name, and the street was renamed Khabarovsk (the name "Krasnoyarskaya" was acquired by the neighboring new street during this time). The initiative to rename the city of Chernenko and the Chernenkovsky region of Penza and the Penza region, where Konstantin Ustinovich was short-lived secretary of the regional committee for ideology, was not implemented at all.

According to the recollections of people who knew Konstantin Ustinovich closely, he was a kind and ardent man who loved his homeland.

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