About Brezhnew wrote:Brezhnew family photosBrezhnew wrote:What kind of communism are you speaking about? The Tsar was killed, churches blown up - the people had to have some idea to stabilize society!- Brezhnew was the first to start the tradition of Annual New Year Adress (1970) to the nation done on New Year through TV, this tradition became pretty big since that.Brezhnew wrote:Give us freedom and we'll cut each other's throats.
- Brezhnew's speech was bad even during his younger years; despite numerous jokes, his speech manner ("sh") was not a result of senility or marasmus, but of a Great Patriotic War wounding. He was wounded in the jawbone, and it made his accent go worse as he got older and his muscles became more relaxed.
- Brezhnew's favorite game was domino. He might have had some cheap laughs over "domino effect" the US touted
- Brezhnew was a fan of CSCA (Central Sport Club of the Army).
- 9 Feb 1961 a French plane attacked Brezhnew's diplomatic transport en route to Algeria. Brezhnew remarked that this episode was a strong display that even in peacetime, Soviet leaders were not safe from what he called "provocations".
Interesting recollection:- Brezhnew was indeed a good swimmer and also a courageous person during Great Patriotic War. During 1943, he crossed the straights via ships, under German bombs and fire, a total of fourty times. During these trips, Brezhnew's cargo ship was once sunk. He was thrown off-board by the explosion, and later rescued by sailors. Another occasion included him taking direct command of a stationary machine gun whose operators panicked, and stopping a German platoon advancing right towards the nest, killing most of them and forcing them to retreat.Vyacheslav Kirillovich Pankin, Soviet detective corps chief wrote:The Gensec came out of the railway car in a sporting suit and light boots. The Kursk oblast government met him. He often adressed me directly for some reason. Asked a lot about the village Brezhnewka, which his parents were born in: "How's the forest there?" Someone hastily said that it was cut down, and Leonid Ilyich became saddened. Then he recalled how he and his friends ambushed village girls carrying forest nuts when he was young. "We caught their boobs!" "Leonid Ilyich! Please!" - Chernenko tried to calm him down. Brezhnew continued: "I had a friend who played the harmonica, once we played so hard that only the press remained, all buttons fell off". He boasted a little about how good a swimmer he was, that could swim for days.
The regional government always tried to use his good mood for requests, for example: "Give us combines for beetroot harvest". "If only I was a Tsar!" - smiled Brezhnew. - "If I go giving out stuff like this, I'll give away all the nation before I even reach Crimea"
- Brezhnew was not a single-power ruler. Along his side, substantial power in the Brezhnew-era USSR was wielded by Shelepin, Podgorniy and Kosygin. However, Brezhnew slowly sidelined them, replacing with more trusted aides: Andropov, Tikhonov, Schelokov, Chernenko and Tsvigun. Kosygin's influence was minimized despite him still holding power positions.
- Brezhnew collected automobiles, though he did not own them - they were owned by the Foreign Ministry and teh Central Commitee. His collection reached 49 machines. Many were given to him as gift by foreign leaders, foreign communist party members, etc., as well as Soviet factory leaders (GAZ, ZIL), knowing Brezhnew's passion for fast riding.Lyubov Brezhnewa wrote:To be fair I recall my uncle [L.I. Brezhnew] calling daily to Dmitry Ustinov and asked: "When willl this fucking [Afghan] war end?". He went red and angry, often shouted: "Dima, you said the war would not last long! Our children are dying there!"
- Brezhnew crashed a car once when driving around Moscow, he collided with a truck. He also shocked Kissinger and Nixon with his fast driving (each on a separate occasion). His penchant for fast driving was as many say from Great Patriotic War days when Brezhnew first learned to drive.
- Nixon's present, a "Lincoln Continental" used to be Brezhnew's favourite car according to the memories of most witnesses. A sporting Mercedes SL-class that the FRG tried to present Brezhnew also was subject to a funny occasion. Brezhnew liked the car but noted that the blue color was inappropriate and for a communist, the car should be red. The factory repainted it red.
- Brezhnew recalled in his memoirs about a stupid casus with the foreign media (though he could've manufactured it, but it does sound as something say Middle Eastern journalists could bump on): when Gagarin flew into space, some reporter during the meeting with Gagarin said: "It's no wonder they sent you to space, Gagarin is probably a very noble Russian family name", which Brezhnew then mocked and went to say that only labour and courage matter in socialism.
- Brezhnew during his youth wrote a poem (!) about a murdered Soviet diplomat (Vorovsky), dedicating it to a friend. The poem is ridden with errors, but uses a lot of common classical poetical words and phrases, indicating Brezhnew was familiar with some Russian poetry. The style is Nekrasovian, and it's likely Brezhnew admired Nekrasov and the "narodnichestvo" movement.
- The first nation to depict Brezhnew on postal stamps was... Iran.
- A memorial to Brezhnew was erected in Russia in 2004, in Novorossiysk, depicting a young Brezhnew as Party secretary overseeing the industrialization of the city. This indicates Novorossiysk owes a lot to L.I. for making it one of the industrial centers of Russia.
- According to memories, Brezhnew did not support collectivization and tried to distance himself from it; eventually it led his party career to crash and begin anew.
About Andropov wrote:Andropov wrote:Strict order does not require capital injections, but promises massive returnsBy memories, Andropov was intellectually superior to most of the Politbureau, indeed making him somewhat at odds with them. He wasn't also incapable of self-ridicule. Among peers, he allowed himself rather liberal statements both about himself, and the Soviet Union in general.Andropov to his successor as KGB chief wrote:Hold those KGB guys on a tight leash and dont' let them mess in your plansUnlike Brezhnew, he wasn't fond of luxury items, "collections" and "presents' which were little but veiled bribes - in fact he loathed bribes and started massive anti-luxury campaign. He "took away" Brezhnew's family car collection (officially they never owned it anyway), restoring proper ownership by the Central Commitee, giving some cars to factory directors, some were destroyed. The anti-corruption campaign was especially strong in Leningrad, where even school children were reported to their parents and teachers for missing classes.Andropov wrote:In this room there's open talk, totally free, no one hides his opinion. Not like when you leave that door, then you follow the common rules of course!
Andopov maintained his popularity by openly speaking to the people in TV and radio adresses about the problems of the USSR ("I don't have ready recipes", "Our nations' technical inferiority is something we have to openly admit"). He never wore anything but his single Hero Star, compared to Brezhnew's vainglorious appearances it generated lots of sympathy.
Andropov had a lot of feuds in Politbureau due to his open and harsh talk and probably quite a lot of antipathy towards the Party members who indulged in corruption. Smug remarks which Party members made about Andropov often made him seclude for a while. He replied with a simple, relatively-non menacing phrase when faced with insults:
- I am not the last man in this state...
Andropov never went to theater, but read all the plays by himself. Never smoked, never raised his voice on subordinates preferring "serious talks". He sang well, knew many folk and cossack songs. Loved hockey, was an avid fan of "Dynamo" (Moscow hockey club). Played domino as well as Brezhnew. Wrote poetry. Once Bovin and Arbatov wrote him some congratulations and remarked that power often corrupts people. Andropov wrote a poetic response in which he semi-seriously reversed the common phrase to "people corrupting the power".Andropov to his aide Shahnazarov wrote:The political system needs correction. But you can only touch the state after we really move the economy forward. When people really feel it's becoming better to live, then we can start earnestly liberalizing, giving more air. But here you need limits. You, intelligents, love to make a lot of noise: give us democracy, freedom. But there's a lot you know not. If you did, you'd be more careful.
After rising to power, Andropov was not happy and said something around the lines "I was driven over by the history wheel once again" and "You think they await me in the Central Commitee? Kirilenko once told me - 'if you come to the Commitee, you'll disband us all!"
Andropov was also not without a rather morbid sense of humour (hence why I chose him as my role model in SDNWorld ):Another interesting fact: the "Alpha" unit of the KGB (FSB) was created by Andropov in 1979 (you probably know that), as a counter-terrorist "best of the best" unit, especially considering that terrorism was rising against Soviet targets as well.Oleg Troyanovsky, a Soviet diplomat, once got a call from the KGB and it was Andropov on the line, wondering why the diplomat wasn't seen at several high-profile meetings: "Oleg Alexandrovich, where did you vanish? Come visit us, we will offer you a seat (in Russian "posadim" means the same as "incarcerate" and "give one a seat") - then Andropov made a long pause and ended the joke - and we'll give you some tea (also a double-meaning: prison inmates drink tea, very strong, as their main drink)"
Other CPSU Politbureau members wrote: Aleksey Nikolayevich Kosygin was Andropov's main "foe" in the Party. Both intensely disliked each other. However, the economic course both pursued in the 1970s was similar (which allowed them to work together). Unlike early Kosygin's reforms to make enteprises more independent, the late Kosygin policies consisted of relentless drive to cut down expenses, making everyone to "work with their means" and "not ask the state for more". Kosygin invoked Stalin's behaviour in 1941 as an example to follow: when the industries demanded that Stalin open up the state economic Reserve Fund to prop war economy, Stalin replied that a minimal reserve has to be maintained for the most dire circumstances always.
Andrey Pavlovich Kirilenko - apparently they didn't get along well with Andropov. After a tomography determined Kirilenko has brain core atrophy, Andropov sent Kirilenko for medical procedures, effectively firing him on teh grounds of health.
Shelepin, Alexander Nikolaevich - in 1975 removed from the Central Commitee since he was met with worker antipathy during a visit to Great Britain. Was a fan of Dynamo.
Arvid Yanovich Pelshe - architect of the forced industrialization of Latvia. In Latvia was unpopular, perceived as a vehicle for "russification" of the nation. Had lung cancer.
Viktor Vasilyevich Grishin - perceived as a "corruptioneer" by Yeltsin and Gorbachov, in reality he was a pretty spartan man. He died without even getting his pension since Yeltsin's reforms defaulted all Russian savings of the Soviet era.
Dinmukhamed Akhmedovich Kunayev - unquestioned Party authority and popular among the people in the Kazakh SSR, his removal led to protests when ethnic Russian was placed instead of him by Gorbachov in the late 1980s.
Vladimir Vasilyevich Shcherbitskiy - thought to have been the closest person to Brezhnew. Thought he'd be the successor, but lost to Andropov whom Brezhnew selected as a more trusted aide after some very private talks.
Andrey Andreyevich GromykoA quote that alone is a good characteristicAndrey Andreyevich Gromyko wrote:If we aren't strong, we will get crushed to pulpGromyko wrote:To leave, you don't need a lot of cunning. To leave a position is a hundred times easier than taking it. We earned our military presence in Central Europe with the price of millions of lives. Which politician can forget this? Leave? We'll leave, after we get an agreement to disband NATO, and then the WARPAC. How would we leave, and the great war machine, created to threaten us, will remain? This can only happen if the Warsaw Pact nations are defeated militarilyGromyko was highly intellectual; he read a lot of classic works. He was also somewhat religious, not losing all his orthodox roots; he sometimes talked about religion with his son. He was instrumental in supporting Gorbie, but soon regretted it and lamented even after the results of Gorbachov's policy became clear.Gromyko about Khrushev's ravings in the UN wrote:Best to be forgotten in history, than to be remembered as a fool
Grigoriy Vasilyevich Romanov - architect of the Kronshtadt dam project from the 1940s to the 1980s (only now it's being finished, one of the most massive artificial dams in history). A lot of bullshit was poured his side by lunatic greenies about "butcher of the Gulf of Finland", "fishies will die" and other crap when it became clear the anti-flooding dam will be finished.
Dmitriy Fyodorovich Ustinov - "Stalin school" some referred to him - like Stalin, Ustinov took very little time to rest and worked a lot, sleeping often 3-4 hours in a day. Brezhnew managed to win Ustinov's support since he was apparently very interested in industry and had a good understading of industrial process unlike Khrushev who had no clue.
Nikolay Aleksandrovich Tikhonov - critiqued Kosygin and Brezhnew often, was one of the more open-minded speakers in the Politbureau, which made him closer to Andropov.