Staunton, December 12 – The way for Mikhail Gorbachev to rise to power and then destroy the USSR was opened by a series of political murders in Moscow and the union republics orchestrated by KGB head and later CPSU General Secretary Yury Andropov, according to Aleksandr Neukropny.
The Moscow commentator argues that these deaths which “at first glance appear natural or completely accidental benefitted definite forces” and that raises “a large number of serious questions” (topcor.ru/17759-skolko-politicheskih-ubijstv-bylo-soversheno-v-sssr-radi-perestrojki.html).
None of these possibilities could be considered at the time, he continues, because the very idea that there could be “power struggles, ‘palace coups,’ or even more political murders” was then “taboo.” But now, if one looks back and considers the events of the 1970s through the 1990s, “one can reach completely unexpected and even shocking conclusions.”
At the very least, the commentator suggests, all this means that Gorbachev’s rise was via a river of blood, something that discredits him; but more than that, it means that political succession in the last decades of Soviet power was a bloody struggle, something that discredits that system or at least its final years.
When Leonid Brezhnev’s health sharply deteriorated in 1976, many around him recognized that they would have to be prepared for a political struggle to succeed him. Some were prepared to clear the way for their own rise by murdering their opponents, Neukropny insists.
The first victim was Defense Minister Marshal Andrey Grechko because for anyone to rise to the top position, he needed not just support within the CPSU Central Committee but control of the military and the secret police. Nikita Khrushchev had shown that when he used Marshal Zhukov to rise to power before demoting him.
Yury Andropov already controlled the KGB, and his ally Andrey Gromyko was a senior man in the government, but Grechko, a close ally of Brezhnev, was an obstacle; and so, according to Neukropny, Andropov disposed of him by poison. And having succeeded in that, the KGB head took similar action against CPSU Central Committee Secretary Fyodor Kulakov and Second Secretary and chief party ideologist Mikhail Suslov.
Andropov used the Fourth Chief Directorate of the Soviet Health Ministry for these ends. That directorate was charged with taking care of the health of the Soviet leadership and was headed by Academician Yevgeny Chazov who entered into “conspiratorial” relations with Andropov and helped him out in this regard.
Other deaths followed in this way or by automobile “accidents” as in the case of Belarusian party chief Petr Masherov. With all these people out of the way, Andropov opened the path to the top job not only for himself but for his protégé, Mikhail Gorbachev, the commentator says.
What happened after these deaths, he says, makes that clear. After Grechko’s murder, Andropov inserted Dmitry Ustinov, who served Andropov and Gorbachev faithfully. After Kulakov’s death, Gorbachev was elevated to the party leadership in Moscow from his hitherto obscurity in Stavropol Kray.
After his deputy who was Brezhnev’s watcher in the organs committed what was reported as a suicide, Andropov had free reign at the KGB and could control party plenums and secure the election of Gorbachev. Neukropny says readers should be able to draw their own conclusions about how and why all this happened.