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LEONID BREZHNEV PowerPoint PPT Presentation

LEONID BREZHNEV Coalition that brought down Khrushchev included anti-Stalinists and diehard Stalinists Settled on compromise successor in Brezhnev Bland enough to be acceptable to both groups PROFILE OF BREZHNEV Born in 1906

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Leonid brezhnev l.jpg


  • Coalition that brought down Khrushchev included anti-Stalinists and diehard Stalinists

    • Settled on compromise successor in Brezhnev

      • Bland enough to be acceptable to both groups

Profile of brezhnev l.jpg


  • Born in 1906

  • First leader to have been too young to participate in 1917 Revolution

  • Belonged to generation of communists who made their careers as party bureaucrats

  • Trained as an engineer

    • Climbed ladder as protégé of Khrushchev

  • Imposing and conventional

    • Would hold power for nearly 20 years despite declining health during last decade of his life

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  • Brezhnev brought Soviet society closer to Western societies

    • Population became more urban

      • 66% of people lived in urban areas by 1968

  • Industrial development

    • 12-15% annual growth rate continued into the 1970s

      • Soviet Union became world’s leading producer of oil, iron ore, steel, and chemical fertilizers by 1970

      • Profits invested in the military

        • Arms expenditures increase by annual rate of 4% between 1964 and 1976

        • Allowed Soviet Union to achieve nuclear parity with U.S. and superiority in naval strength

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  • Eighth Five-Year Plan (1966-1970) and Ninth Five-Year Plan (1971-1975) emphasized consumer production

    • 50 million apartments built between 1966-1975

      • By 1980, 75% of all families in Moscow had their own apartments

    • By 1983, 83% of families had a television, 82% had refrigerators, and 58% had a washing machine

      • But only 25% had a car and country had fewer phones than France and fewer miles of paved roads than Texas

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  • Brezhnev’s rule can be described as Neo-Stalinist

    • First political trial of an intellectual since 1953 held in 1966

    • Alexander Solzhenitsyn forbidden from accepting Nobel Prize in literature in 1970 and forced into exile in 1974

    • Impromptu open-air art exhibit demolished by bulldozers in 1974

    • Andrei Sakharov exiled for speaking out against war in Afghanistan in 1980



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  • Brezhnev never interested in mass support or popularity

    • Viewed shared by the bureaucratic oligarchy of top Party officials

      • His real source of support

      • A self-perpetuating elite

  • Soviet society had fewer chances for social mobility than Western societies

    • Only 11% of Soviet young people went to college

    • Children of top party officials and factory managers were five times more likely to go to college than children of ordinary people

      • They thus continued to enjoy privileges of the elite

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  • Unscrupulous officials gathered around Brezhnev who used their connections and power to amass tremendous wealth for themselves

    • Often simply through embezzlement

  • Meanwhile, economic growth began to slow down and stagnated by 1976

    • Mainly because of huge military expenditures

    • Soviet workers felt powerless and manipulated

  • Brezhnev’s legacy was the impulse to cynical self-gratification

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  • Quality of Soviet life actually began to decline by 1980s

    • Brezhnev responds by refusing to face the problem

  • Brezhnev dies in 1982

    • Replaced by Yuri Andropov

      • Dies in year and a half

    • Followed by Constantine Chernyenko

      • Died within a year



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  • Mikhail Gorbachev elected General Secretary in March 1985 at age 54

  • Had worked his way up in CP youth organization and studied law the University of Moscow

  • Both grandfathers had been arrested under false charges during Stalin era

  • Charming, flexible, and determined

    • Master of CP politics

  • Knew that fundamental reforms, ones in which Soviet people would actively participate, were necessary

  • Spoke opening of failure of economic planning

    • But was convinced that communism could be rescued by reforms, once the inefficiency and brutality of Stalinism had been eliminated

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  • Soviet Union no longer keeping up with tremendous pace of economic and technological change of the 1980s

  • Problem was that only 5% of its GNP came from international trade

    • Raw materials that USSR exported suffered from depressed prices

      • How could they generate revenue needed to buy necessary technology?

    • Soviet manufactured products not competitive in world market

      • Poor quality because Soviet factories were out-of-date and workmanship was poor

        • High rates of absenteeism, alcoholism, and worker turnover

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  • For the USSR to improve productivity, it had to acquire new technology and provide greater incentives to a workforce that wanted, but couldn’t afford, sophisticated consumer products

    • But how could the USSR do this and simultaneously keep up in the arms race, retool its factories, and improved its underdeveloped transportation network?

  • USSR was caught in a vicious circle

    • It needed greater investment and greater incentives to stimulate greater productivity.

    • But as long as productivity remained low, the Soviet economy could not generate the resources for greater investment and more incentives

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  • To break vicious circle, Gorbachev launched:

    • Perestroika (“restructuring”)

      • Economic revolution

    • Glasnost (“openess”)

      • Re-examination of Soviet history and encouragement of public discussion in an unprecedented way

      • Teach Soviet citizens to understand their relationship with the government in a new way

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  • Not a complete abandonment of socialism

    • State continued to own factories and set broad economic targets

    • But role of huge planning bureaucracy was targeted for huge reduction

  • Managers told they would be responsible for their own finances

    • No longer receive subsidies

  • No more subsidies to keep prices on consumer goods artificially low

  • 50% of service sector and 20% of consumer industry turned over to private ownership

  • Begin to reverse collectivization

  • Work to attract foreign investment

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  • Gorbachev knew that the way to make USSR a more productive society was to make it a more open society

  • Every subject that had formerly been taboo was now openly discussed

    • Gorbachev stated Stalin’s guilt in the horrors of the Great Purge and collectivization

    • Public officials subjected to tough questions

    • Documentaries probed damaging effects of long war in Afghanistan

    • Environmentalists stated sit-ins to prevent destruction of historic buildings

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  • Reaction of ordinary people to glasnost was mixed

    • Many older people resented attacks on Stalin

    • Soviet conservatives saw talk about multi-party democracy and the right to emigrate as evidence of social decay

      • Insisted that freedom in Russia always led to anarchy and that Russia needed a strong master

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  • Gorbachev insists on multiple candidates and voting by secret ballot for factory managers and members of parliament

    • Knew that his program would provoke obstruction of Soviet power structure

    • Wanted to win wide popular support before unrest with short-run hardships caused by his reforms and resistance of the bureaucracy doomed his plans to failure

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  • Perestroika did create economic hardships

    • Less planned economy meant higher prices and rising unemployment

  • Soviet people had been taught that socialism would protect them from high prices and unemployment

    • Also resented new class of entrepreneurs

  • Finally, reforms did not dramatically increase consumer products—maybe even decreased their supply

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  • To make it more difficult for conservative elements to depose him, Gorbachev begins fundamental democratic reshaping of political institutions in late 1988

    • Drew up new constitution

    • Called for elections to new National Congress of People’s Deputies

      • 2250 seats

      • 750 seats chosen from various organizations such as Communist Part

      • 1500 seats left to democratic choice of voters

      • First free election in Russia since 1917

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  • Results of election

    • Deeply humiliated CP hierarchy

    • Demonstrated that opportunity to make real changes had shaken the Soviet people out of apathy

  • Only 25% of districts were uncontested

    • Even in uncontested districts, CP leaders who were critical of Gorbachev were defeated

    • Election pitted younger, reform minded CP members against older generation

      • Younger generation usually won

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  • New Parliament meetings broadcast on television

    • Intense criticism of KGB

    • Gorbachev elected president of body

      • But only after days of intense grilling

  • Gorbachev won more secure political position

    • Could not be removed unless majority of Parliament agreed to it

    • Gave him alternative power base to the CP hierarchy

      • Which he also continued to purge

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  • Glasnost gave national minorities freedom to express their discontent with Soviet government and also their hatred for each other in many regions

  • Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia were most discontented

    • Gorbachev tried to appease them by setting up “mixed economy”

      • Did not work—demanded complete independence

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  • Gorbachev had no intention of presiding over dismantlement of Soviet Union

    • Alternately employed concessions and threats to keep non-Russian republics in USSR

      • But nothing seemed to work

  • Demands of Baltic states inspired others to demand independence

    • Georgians, Ukrainians, Armenians, and others

  • Gorbachev did not want USSR to fragment but the only way to handle problem was to back off from glasnost and stifle talk of independence

    • This would jeopardize all the other progress Gorbachev had made and perhaps represent a return to bad old days of Brezhnev

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  • King of Afghanistan overthrown by his prime minister Mohammed Daoud in 1973

    • Daoud overthrown and killed by military officers in 1978 and power turned over to a Marxist-Leninist party

    • Islamic fundamentalist guerillas launch guerilla war and push regime to verge of collapse

    • in December 1979, USSR airlifts troops into country to protect regime

      • Ultimately commits 100,000 men

      • But guerillas prove impossible to defeat

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  • Reaction from world to Soviet invasion swift and harsh

    • Condemned by UN

    • 56 countries boycott Moscow Olympics in 1980

    • Criticism of Islamic countries fierce

    • U.S. supplies Afghan rebels

  • Wounded veterans from war become dissonant element in Soviet society

  • Gorbachev vows to end “bleeding wound” of Afghanistan and pulls troops out in January 1990

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