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Andropov Assention, Diamonds, Playboys and attempted arrest

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Post 27 Nov 2016, 06:17
I recently came across a story of Andropov's assentation to power.

I have found 3 versions of this story with lots of deliberate mis-information.

Is there any sources that have details of the diamond heist, Boris the Gypsy's arrest?

Also I found some sketchy accounts that in September of 82 Brezhnev tried to have Andropov arrested, resulting in a gun battle between the MVD and the KGB. After the KGB won that fight Andropov's assentation was just a matter of waiting for Brezhnev to die.

Does anyone have information on this?
Post 27 Nov 2016, 22:36
Andropov has always been a wildcard. This explains the wildly different views on who and what he was and what he planned for the Soviet Union.

Detractors claim that he wanted to destroy the Soviet Union, disband the Eastern Bloc and move Russia into the European Community, thus fulfilling the prototype of what would become known as the ideal of a Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Whatever the expected losses, the expected gains were supposedly meant to include Russia becoming the largest, nuclear-armed power in Europe, and kicking the US off the continent. Incidentally, while this dream never materialized, it has been theorized that many Russian leaders, including former 'silovik' Putin, continue to believe in it, or at least did until 2014.

Political scientists and historians who I've seen pushing this theory about Andropov include Sergei Kurginyan and Alexander Shevyakin. They have pointed to Andropov's ties with the liberal intelligentsia, and his involvement in promoting some of the figures who would later end up dismantling the USSR (including the troika of Gorbachev, Yakovlev and Shevardnadze). However, Andropov did also appoint the more moderate and conservative Ryzhkov and Ligachev, which kind of puts a dent in their theory. They are also suspicious of Andropov's ties with Kuusinen and Kadar, two somewhat unorthodox foreign communists - again that's not a smoking gun as far as I'm concerned.

Defenders, most prominently Oleg Klobustov, who has written several books about Andropov, defend him as a good conservative communist who was betrayed by the two-facedness of people like Gorbachev. And it's true that they really were known for hiding behind a mask of orthodoxy, if one even listens to their speeches vs. their later memoirs). The defenders point to a series of policy successes attributable to Andropov, including the increased effectiveness of the KGB and an improvement in its public image, as well as the effectiveness of some of his 'tighten the screw' policies during his brief tenure in office. They also point out that he was the one to push for a hardline of intervention in Hungary in 1956.

Sorry for the long preface:

Regarding his assent to power, pretty much everyone, supporters and detractors alike, agrees that Andropov was pushing to be the one to replace Brezhnev when he resigned or died. At the same time, Andropov needed time to secure his position; on the two occasions that Brezhnev did ask the Politburo to resign, they talked him out of it, Andropov included, so that they could continue their political struggle.

I don't know what kinds of details you're looking for regarding Boris the Gypsy; Brezhnev was deeply embarrassed by his daughter's involvement with him. At the same time, it doesn't seem that Andropov was trying to discredit Brezhnev and force him to resign. In fact, the two men's doctor, Evgeny Chazov, has written that even as Brezhnev's health was deteriorating in 1982, Andropov was still pushing him to ensure that Brezhnev lived 'as long as possible'.

The gun battle stuff sounds like something out of the yellow journalism swamp of the 1990s and 2000s, although there are more commonly known rumors that the wife of Nikolai Shchelokov, the minister of interior that Andropov had humiliated and demoted, may have shot Andropov, since they lived in the same apartment building, but that was already after he had become general secretary

Ultimately, I think the worst then Andropov did in the effort to clear this path to power was to remove some good people, including Leningrad party secretary Grigory Romanov, from the running. The KGB is believed to be behind the rumors, since proven false, that Romanov's daughter used and broke real Czarist-era china during her wedding. Romanov, like Gorbachev, was young, and ambitious, but he never recovered from those lies. He was a genuine Marxist-Leninist, and remained one until his death. He was also successful in his efforts to develop industry in the Leningrad region, whereas Gorbachev's rise was facilitated by riding on the coattails of better men, including Kulakov, and then sucking his way up to power when party bigwigs came to Stavropol.
Post 09 Jan 2017, 23:54
@soviet78, which books by which authors would you suggest to read in order to understand Andropov? Be it in either English or Russian.
Post 10 Jan 2017, 12:02
In English, there are only a couple books devoted to him that I could recommend; they were published in the early 80s when he became General Secretary:

1) Andropov in Power: From Komsomol to the Kremlin by Jonathan Steele (1983); it's a snapshot in time discussing the problems the USSR faced at the time, from the perspective of a British journalist. Not perfect, but as fair as one could expect for the time.

2) Zhores Medvedev's book Andropov (1984). I don't remember this being as interesting or fair, but Medvedev is a dissident Marxist, like his brother, which gives it some value I guess. Plus he had access to Russian sources. His brother Roy did another take on it in the late 1990s, apparently, called The Unknown Andropov (Неизвестный Андропов); haven't read it, but I have come to respect Medvedev, particularly after he gave up whatever illusions he may have had about the character of Soviet socialism by the disaster that was the Soviet collapse.

In Russia, there are Alexander Shevyakin's books (КГБ против СССР. 17 мгновений измены) and the aforementioned Oleg Klobustov (Неизвестный Андропов). Those are the ones I have, but there are others online. The two even collaborated to make kind of versus book (Юрий Андропов: реформатор или разрушитель?) thought it's not very good - they don't really attack one another's points; just rehash their arguments, not even in academic form sometimes. More well sourced and academic in style is Alexander Ostrovsky's 2 books Проект "Распад СССР" and Глупость или измена? Расследование гибели СССР, although these look broader than just Andropov, and discuss the betrayal of the party nomenclature. I always love to recommend books by sociologist Sergei Kara-Murza, but I can't recall anything by him about Andropov specifically just off the top of my head.
Post 10 Jan 2017, 22:58
Great stuff, thank you!
Do you have any favourite online bookstore (apart from the obvious Amazon, I mean)?
Post 11 Jan 2017, 21:14
No problem! Regarding bookstores, can't say that I do. By the way, Ostrovsky's Проект "Распад СССР" is the more relevant book among the two, since it has a whole section about Andropov. In that book's footnotes, you can find a couple more monographs you may find interesting.
Post 13 Jan 2017, 00:44
Thank you. I also jump to other relevant books which I find in footnotes of those which I find interesting to read. I look up that Распад СССР...
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