Winds of change

No head of Russia/USSR/CIS is safe and his ideologies are far from eternal. Lenin (who ruled from 1917-24) was the first head of state of the Soviet Union. When Stalin (1924-53) came to power, he disregarded most of Lenin’s ideologies and proved to be a solid dictator for 29 years. After that came Khrushchev (1953-64) who decried Stalin’s style of ruling and introduced glasnost and perestroika. Brezhnev (1964-82) was totally opposed to any such ideas and reacted with a coup when Khrushchev was holidaying in Crimea. He destroyed all the foundations of reform, which were laid by Khrushchev and was a Communist to the very depth of his soul. Then Yuri Andropov (1982-84) who was more or less a moderate, came, and after him Chernenko (1984-85) a staunch hardliner.

So the union had been alternating between a hardliner and reformist for most of its time and each leader attacked his immediate predecessor. Gorbochev (1985-91) went many steps further and attacked all of his predecessors right up to Lenin and was responsible for dismantling Communism in the Soviet Union. After that, for a very brief period a hardliner, Yanayev took over. Now we have Yelstin, who was supposed to be a champion democrat, but he is also in deep water and his position is far from safe, with everyone including his Vice-President attacking him.

Yesterday, today or tomorrow—no Russian leader is sure of respect and approval from his future generation.

(This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in The Times of India in 1991)

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