Career: the aim or the lifestyle?
Leonid was born in Dneprodzerzhinsk, during his childhood and youth he lived with his parents in a small two-story house with apartments. Now this house is nicknamed «Lenin’s.» According to the words of housemate, when Leonid was a child, he liked to chase the pigeons from the pigeon-loft. At the age of 17 Leonid joined the Komsomol and 5 years later he was qualified as a land surveyor. He worked as a land surveyor for 8 years. From 1935 to 1936 he served in the army as political commissar of the tank company and there he graduated from courses of mechanization in the rank of lieutenant. From this moment his military and political career has began. By the way, this tank regiment in 1982 was called Brezhnev.
Leonid’s house and the neighbors
At the age of 32 Leonid Brezhnev has become the deputy of department head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional party committee and after a year he has become a secretary of this committee. Those, who were closed to the government, said, that it was not because of the merits, but because of the «staff shortages”, that had place in the party because of the regular repression.
“He doesn’t like rough work. His military knowledge is very weak. He solves a lot of questions like a businessman, not like a political worker. He has an inclination to have the favorites.”
— From the personal characteristics (1942)
The chief of a political department of 18th army colonel Leonid Ilich Brezhnev came to the Small Earth for forty times, and it was dangerous travel, because some ships, which sailed there, were undermined on mines and sank from direct hits of shells and aviation bombs. Once the seiner, on which Brezhnev floated, has run into a mine, the colonel was thrown out in the sea … sailors picked him up
— From article «225 days of courage» («Truth», 1943).
In 1946 Leonid Brezhnev started to obtain more and more considerable posts, getting to the capital of USSR. In 1950 he was appointed as the first secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Moldova, then, under Stalin’s patronage, as the secretary of the Central Committee and as the candidate in members of Presidium.
In 54 years Brezhnev obtained a post of the chairman of presidium of the Supreme body of the USSR, in 4 years of active displacement of Khruschev, at last, obtained a post of the general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
Severe or just?
Brezhnev has never ashamed of his methods of management. He tactfully and gently leads the country through the way, which was known only to him. It is because of Brezhnev the period of tension in the relations with the United States begins. Firstly because of the invasion in Czechoslovakia and lately because of the Afghan conflict.
However, his passion to self-contemplation was showed not only in his foreign political activity.
They say that Leonid Brezhnev personally wanted to take part in the creation of flight plans beyond the Earth. In his memoirs (which were written by journalists according to the order and words of Brezhnev) an entire chapter is devoted to space planning. He insisted, that the ideas and plans about launching a satellite by Korolev, belonged to him. Moreover, according to the chapter about Baikonur, Brezhnev by himself determined the place where the world’s largest spaceport has to be built.
“Specialists understood well, that it would be faster, easier and cheaper to set on the Black Lands. The area is habitable: here railway and highway, water and electricity can be found; and the climate is not as severe as in Kazakhstan. So the Caucasian had a lot of supporters. I had much time to study documents, projects, papers; to discuss all this with scientists, business executives, engineers, specialists, who had to run rockets into space in the future. My decision was gradually forming. The Party Central Committee has chosen the Kazakhstan variant… Life has confirmed the feasibility and correctness of this decision: the land of the North Caucasus is reserved for agriculture, and the Baikonur has transformed one more area of the country. The range of works was great because the rocket ground had to be done quickly and the time was short.”
— Leonid Brezhnev. Recollection
During promotion to the main post of the country Brezhnev had time to create a team if not adherents, but precisely true and devoted assistants. Their surnames were established on all supervising posts, it was necessary to Brezhnev to strengthen the position on a board top. Objectionable people were smoothly displaced, or subjected the furious criticism that, certainly, didn’t facilitate their work.
However, who knows – what other persons would do if they were on his place? Coming to power, the majority of politicians without dependence from level and «portfolio» size are doing the same, aren’t they?
And after all, anyone of us will prefer to work with the familiar employee, who were checked up in the years, rather than to come as leader in team, subordinated to not too successful previous management.
So with a help of Brezhnev to power came Tikhonov, Andropov, Chernenko, Tsvigun and Shelokov.
Cohesive team of companions began active actions inside the country and abroad. But too active military actions have kindled the Cold War with the United States. As an appeasement policy in 1975 Brezhnev signed the Helsinki Accords, in order to appease the storm in Europe and summarize the outcome of the Second World War. But the main outcome was not only a friendly agreement between the USSR and German, but also a peaceful coexistence between countries — representatives of global capitalism and the Soviet Union.
Brezhnev and Nixon
Brezhnev added his own memoirs to the school and university programs maybe because of his cult of personality or maybe just to improve the life of society with his personal point of view. However, it has become a source of jokes and humoresques about secretary general.
Meanwhile Brezhnev did not look younger. He could hardly survive in the 1976 because in 1969 he had suffered from attempt. Clinical death caused asthenia and atherosclerosis.
Approximately at the same time in Dneprodzerzhinsk a bust of Brezhnev was installed. At the other end of a long alley was a monument to Lenin. Almost immediately the alley was named «From Ilyich to Ilyich.»
Brezhnev liked to drink and he knew how to do it. He preferred herbal tinctures and wines from all the alcoholic beverages. He didn’t miss feasts and what is more, he managed to drink during the parades and at the Mausoleum. Each spree he began with a toast. However, the first toast was always the same: «Life is beautiful and amazing if the first thing you do – you drink”.
Favorite appetizer of the secretary general was game, preferably if he shoots it by himself. Apparently love to hunt was in the blood: firstly he drank and then he took up a gun. But Leonid felt badly because of poor health. But soon Leonid Ilyich had refuse from the parties: at first he drank a little, but after that he started a non-alcoholic lifestyle. So his favorite drink was the Borjomi. His family also began to have Borjomi, including his granddaughter Victoria Brezhnev.
Several years ago she gave her last interview, during of which she refused to drink alcohol and with pleasure she had Borjomi and talked about his grandfather:
— I remember, that my education was largely dominated by the grandmother and grandfather. This was due to «technical reasons»: mom and dad were on a circus tour. Perhaps I could be called «the lost child» if there were not Leonid Brezhnev and Victoria Petrovna. Many years have passed, but I still feel like I am their child, their daughter. Brezhnev had to change his favorite «Belomor” to an exclusive, specially created for him, line of cigarettes» News «. But after that he finally gave up smoking. But when you are giving up smoking not because of your desire, but because of the poor health, the organism gives up too, so Leonid Ilyich had to ask for cigarettes secretly. A special cigar case, that opened 45 minutes, couldn’t help.
When he gave up smoking, the secretary general sometimes asked his drivers to smoke in the car. Turning to the personal interpreter during the international parties, Brezhnev asked: «Victor! Light up a cigarette, please!” and demanded to breathe in his side.
General Secretary is a humorist
Brezhnev joked peremptorily without a shadow of embarrassment maybe because of his habit to hold high office or maybe it was only his innate fearlessness.
When Brezhnev was presenting to Ranevskaya an Order of Lenin in Kremlin, he said:
— Mulia! Do not make me nervous!
But Ranevskaya answered resentfully:
-Leonid Ilyich, only boys or bullies call me like that.
Secretary General embarrassed, blushed and mumbled, apologetically:
— Excuse me, but I love you very much.
I still do not understand: Brezhnev was severe or just? According to independent polls, now 33% of Russians would prefer to live in the country under his control.
Maybe only the world’s leading politicians know whether he was crazy old man or a fine politician. Or maybe the staff in all government institutions knew what the person was Brezhnev, because Brezhnev knew everyone from secretaries to cleaners. During the time of serving the country he received many medals and awards, more than Khrushchev and Stalin did.
And legends about him suddenly become a real story, as in an interview with a staff photographer of secretary general Vladimir Musaelyana:
— I have a shot where Leonid Brezhnev is standing in the paddock with a rifle at the exhibition. Shortly before the hunt in Zalesie, Ukraine bisons were brought from Belarus, so this herd during the corral began to show an aggression to him. I was standing on a place where I took a shot and behind me there was a whisper of the Chief of protection: “Leonid Ilyich, do not shoot!» But he aimed. I stood still and I was afraid to move. Bison were a yard away from the general secretary, the whole family — five individuals. I have not pressed the button a second time and I regret that I haven’t done it. The guards probably turned gray, but Brezhnev did not even flinch.