Brezhnev, Leonid Ilyich

(1911–1982)
   As Nikita Khrushchev’s deputy and later as general secretary of the Communist Party from 1964 until his death in 1982, Brezhnev artfully used the KGB to secure his position. In the end, however, the KGB brought him down and probably hastened his death.
   Brezhnev rose in the Communist Party during the 1930s; his base was the party organization of the Ukrainian city of Dneprepropetrovsk. In World War II, he served as the political commissar of a brigade and was decorated for heroism. Following the war, Brezhnev served as a senior party official in the provinces and Moscow. In the early 1960s he became Khrushchev’s de facto deputy, but in 1964, with Aleksandr Shelepin and other Politburo members, he began to plot against Khrushchev. Brezhnev used the KGB to isolate his patron as he prepared the October 1964 coup that unseated the country’s leader. As the new Soviet leader, Brezhnev stocked the KGB with former political cronies from his home town, including Viktor Chebrikov, Georgi Tsinev, and Semyon Tsvygun. He worked closely with KGB head Yuri Andropov, allowing Andropov great sway to broaden KGB operations internally and externally. In 1981, however, Andropov began to plot against Brezhnev. The KGB spread rumors about corruption in the ruling family, as well as Brezhnev’s declining physical and mental health, creating confusion in party senior ranks and perhaps hastening Brezhnev’s death in November 1982. The Brezhnev era is known today in Russia as a period of “stagnation” during which the KGB stifled religious and political dissent and the country fell further and further behind the West.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Brezhnev — noun Soviet statesman who became president of the Soviet Union (1906 1982) • Syn: ↑Leonid Brezhnev, ↑Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev • Instance Hypernyms: ↑statesman, ↑solon, ↑national leader …   Useful english dictionary

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