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Winners And Losers

3 minute read

The biggest winner in last week’s Kremlin reshuffle was the man who orchestrated it, Mikhail Gorbachev. He not only installed himself in a newly invigorated presidency but also retained his post as Communist Party General Secretary. Of the twelve voting members of the ruling Politburo, all but three have now been appointed by Gorbachev. Yet at 57 he remains the group’s youngest member, a reminder of just how remarkable his rapid rise to power has been. Other major moves — up, down and sideways:

Andrei Gromyko, 79. After formally nominating Gorbachev to be General Secretary three years ago, the longtime Foreign Minister was rewarded with the mostly honorary post of President. But having served six Soviet leaders over nearly 50 years, he was the ultimate holdover and came under public attack during last summer’s party conference. Retired.

Anatoli Dobrynin, 68. For 24 years the Soviet Ambassador to Washington, the roly-poly Dobrynin was installed by Gorbachev as the party’s chief foreign affairs adviser in 1986. He was frequently seen with Gorbachev when the General Secretary received foreign leaders, and was thus believed safe in his job. But he may have been too closely associated with the Gromyko era in foreign affairs to adjust well to Gorbachev’s “new thinking.” Retired.

Yegor Ligachev, 67. As recently as last August, the beefy former Siberian party chief felt secure enough to engage Gorbachev supporters on the Politburo in a slinging match over party ideology, his special field. In a move that seemed designed to isolate a Gorbachev rival without firing him outright, Ligachev was transferred to the thankless post of overseeing the Soviet Union’s troubled agricultural sector. It remained unclear whether he would retain his No. 2 Politburo ranking. Demoted.

Vadim Medvedev, 59. A brainy culture specialist who rose through the ranks of the Leningrad party organization, Medvedev since 1983 has headed the Central Committee’s Science and Education Department. His appointment as a voting member of the Politburo, over the heads of seven nonvoting members waiting in the wings for such a summons, is little short of astonishing. In effect, moreover, he was given Ligachev’s ideological portfolio. Promoted.

Alexander Yakovlev, 64. Ambassador to Canada for ten years, Yakovlev has been a key architect of the Gorbachev reform program. He was given a reorganized version of Dobrynin’s Central Committee job dealing with foreign affairs. Promoted.

Anatoli Lukyanov, 58. A Gorbachev confidant, he scored a double hit, winning a nonvoting seat on the Politburo and a first vice presidency in the government. Promoted.

Vladimir Kryuchkov, 64. Like Gorbachev a protege of Yuri Andropov, he has served since 1974 as head of the KGB’s foreign-intelligence operation. Kryuchkov was named to his late mentor’s longtime job as chief of the KGB over several more senior officials. Promoted.

Alexandra Biryukova, 59. A consumer-affairs specialist on the Central Committee, she was named a nonvoting Politburo member, the first woman to hold such a post in 27 years. Promoted.

Viktor Chebrikov, 65. Already a voting member of the Politburo, Chebrikov was moved from chief of the KGB to head a Central Committee panel that will oversee legal reform. Sideways.

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