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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.