Leadership changes 1982-85

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Problems facing USSR by 1980s

  • ECONOMY= After years of declining growth the economy needed to be addressed. but the proposal of anything other than a state-owned economy was met with outrage.
  • economic restructuring needed to happen, but for the sake of political popularity, without radically changing anything. 
  • Presented a tricky problem, additionally there was huge explenditure on arms, which many felt a necessity due to relations with the US.
  • POLITICAL= Any change to economy was likely to have an effect on part, as they were so intertwined. 
  • Corruption was rife & both Andropov & Gorbachev felt like this was a problem that needed addressing. 
  • FOREIGN POLICY= USSR was struggling to maintain its superpower status. They were still involved in Afghanistan, which was a very unpopular war, & negotiations and detente with USA were constantly being discussed.
  • SOCIAL= there was dissidence and other relatively minor social issues to address: quality of consumer goods.
  • more worryingly was the state of the republics, where there was potential trouble.
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  • Son of a railwayman he left school at age 16 to work non shipyards and serve in WWII. Then he served as ambassador to Hungary (1954-57),and later became the head of the KGB.
  • RISE TO POWER= Chernenko was meant to be Brezhnev’s successor. However, Andropov was popular enough, and had the support of the KGB and the military, that he was elected General Secretary. It was a ‘bloodless coup’.
  • POLICIES= Removed Brezhnevites.
  • 20% regional part secretaries replaced.
  • 33% Departmental heads replaced.
  • Broke up monopolies.
  • Rounded up absent employees (for every100 working, 30 absent).
  • Bond with US.
  • Shot Korean plane KAL007, 269 dead.
  • Anti-corruption.
  • IMPACT= Largely failed to address problems, just tried to cope with them.
  • No mark on foreign policy.
  • Continued to clash with conservatives.
  • Too ill and in power too short a time.
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  • Born in a Siberian village, was a Chinese border guard and was in NKVD during the ‘Great Terror’. In1948 he was in charge of propaganda for Moldavia. Soon became Brezhnev’s holiday and booze buddy.
  • When Andropov died, there were enough Brezhnevites alive to demand Chernenko appointment of General Secretary, as opposed to the more dynamic Gorbachev.

  • Gorbachev was comfortable to wait until ‘after’ Chernenko to be appointed Secretary.

  • POLICIES=Stopped anti-corruption, tight on censorship and hard-liner against dissent

    Irrigated Siberian land to increase amount of cultivated land

    Continued Andropov’s industrial programme.

  • IMPACT= Chernenko was in hospital by the end of 1984

    Politburo had 10members, split 50:50old and young

    Chernenko was no reformer

    His reign was really a courtesy paid by Gorbachev and more youthful politicians

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  • Born in 1931 to a well off peasant family, he studied for a degree in law, and then agronomy. Andropov took ashine to Gorbachev and by 1980 he was in the politburo. He saw the corruption in judicial system.

  • Gorbachev had enough support to become General Secretary in 1984, but allowed Chernenko to go first. A member of the central committee commented:  After one leader who was half-dead, another who was half-alive, and another who could hardly speak, the youthful, energetic Gorbachev was very welcome.

  • POLICIES= Glasnost and Perestroika.
  • 70% of party officials at district and city level replaced
  • 52% of Central Committee was new and well educated
  • He wanted to make current system more efficient
  • IMPACT= Tried desperately to save the Soviet Union without too much radical change
  • Last soviet leader.
  • Loved by the West and some intellectuals for Glasnost policy.
  • Hated by conservatives within party.
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