Leningradskaya Pravda from 14thth November 1982.
This issue deals with the immediate aftermath of Brezhnev’s death – his lying in state in Moscow. To the right of the masthead is the declaration:
‘Together with all Soviet people Leningraders pay the deepest respect to the memory of the true son of the Party and the nation, Comrade L. I. Brezhnev, unanimously approving the decision of the extraordinary Plenum of the CPSU.
The articles on page 1 are entitled ‘Moscow bids farewell’, ‘A shining example of public service’ and ‘Forever – in grateful memory’. Page 2 contains a list of messages of sympathy, mostly from friendly countries such as Cuba, North Korea and Cambodia. It is interesting to see what television programs were broadcast during this period of official mourning:
The afternoon and evening schedule for Chanel 1 of USSR TV for 14/11/1984 is as follows:
13:20 G. Sviridov – Trio for piano, violin and cello.
13:50 Information broadcast
14:00 L. I. Brezhnev ‘Memories’
16:00 Information broadcast
16:15 ‘The Summit’ (documentary)
17:15 ‘The Communists’ (poetic composition)
18:00 International Panorama
18:25 ‘The Front Line soldiers’ (documentary)
19:25 The Deputy from the Baltic (film)
21:35 Beethoven’s 5th Symphony
22:20 Information broadcast
Brezhnev lasted 18 years at the very top of the USSR. An entire generation grew up during his years of office and Soviet society should have moved forward.
Brezhnev and his supporters in the Politburo engineered the removal of Khrushchev as General Secretary in 1964. Khrushchev was considered too unpredictable, and haphazard in his approach to government.
Throughout his premiership, Brezhnev was always shadowed by the éminence grise of Soviet politics and protégé of Stalin – Mikhail Suslov. It is thought that much of the re-establishment of ‘hardline’ Soviet politics happened with Brezhnev merely fronting for Suslov, who was the main force in the adoption of neo-Stalinist policies and practices. These measures included increased powers for the KGB, the detention of political dissidents (often in psychiatric hospitals), foreign military interventions such as Prague in 1968 and Afghanistan (1979), significant increased investment for the armed forces and a new personality cult for the General Secretary.
In 1969 Brezhnev survived one of the most bizarre assassination attempts ever, when his would-be assailant shot 14 times at a car containing not Brezhnev but four cosmanauts. The driver of the car was killed, the assassin was run over by a motorcycle, and Brezhnev was fine.