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 Yuri Andropov

Born:   15 June 1914
Deceased:   9 February 1984

the head of the Soviet Union


The Soviet Union witnessed several General Secretaries and most of them happened to rule the country for long, but there were two people, whose time in power was limited by two years. Andropov Yuri Vladimirovich replaced Brezhnev at the age 68, so it was no wonder that he passed away so quickly.

Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was born to a worker’s family in the Stavropol Territory, 1914. His father died when Yuri was a small boy, so right after school Andropov started work. He changed several professions until he was appointed a secretary in a local Communist league. The young Andropov turned to become an active member of the communist movement and joined the party in 1939.

In 1953 he entered the diplomatic service and was sent to Hungary as an ambassador (1954-1957) where stood for bringing the troops into the country and participated in repression of anti-communist revolt. After his mission was accomplished Andropov returned to Moscow to work as the head of the Socialist Countries Department. In 1961 Andropov was chosen a member of the Central Committee.

The name of Yuri Andropov is frequently associated with KGB and it is not a coincidence – he was the chief of Committee for State Security (KGB) from 1967 to 1982. This period occurred to be very important for the organization: KGB penetrated all the spheres of the country and tightened control over the life of Soviet people. That was the time when dissidents were persecuted and free opinions were suppressed. KGB’s methods of isolating dissidents were in frequent use (compulsory medical treatment in mental hospital). Andropov’s initiative to deport nonconformists was approved by the Central Committee and lots of talented citizens had to leave the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn was among them.

Andropov adopted a critical turn towards the Socialist camp countries which tried to pursue an independent domestic and foreign policy. E.g. in August 1968 he affected the decision to introduce the troops of the Warsaw Pact countries to Czechoslovakia. In 1979 Andropov said for the suggestion implying the Soviet forces to invade Afghanistan, in 1980 insisted on a military action to be organized in Poland.

Brezhnev died November 1982 and Andropov, supported by the party leaders, resigned from his post in KGB and was appointed the General Secretary of the Central Committee 12 November 1982.

First months of his rule promised to reform social and economic spheres, however, all the changes came to administrative measures, strengthening discipline of the citizens and fighting corruption at the “high level” of people close to him. The Soviet-American relationships and repressions against dissidents got worse. Former Soviets remember that time and the vast majority have nothing to say against Andropov’s policy, on the contrary, they mutely support and sympathize him.

Andropov’s name also reminds of Samantha Smith, an eleven-year-old American girl, whose letter to Yuri Andropov served as a sign to soften relationships between the USA and the Soviet Union.

9 February 1984 Andropov died of kidneys’ failure caused by longstanding gout.



Olga Pletneva

Tags: Russian statesmen Russian history Russian politics   

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