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The Gorbachev Factor$
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Archie Brown

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780192880529

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0192880527.001.0001

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In the Portals of Power

In the Portals of Power

(p.53) Chapter 3 In the Portals of Power
The Gorbachev Factor

Archie Brown (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

When Gorbachev moved to Moscow in November 1978, he became – at the age of 47 – the youngest member of the predominantly elderly Soviet top leadership team. He received rapid promotion, becoming a candidate member of the Politburo in 1979 and a full member in 1980, while retaining the Secretaryship of the Central Committee he had been accorded in 1978. It was only after the death of Leonid Brezhnev in November 1982, however, and the choice of Andropov to succeed him, that Gorbachev entered the inner circle of the leadership. He was unusual for a Politburo member in consulting widely among social scientists and in taking full advantage of Moscow's cultural life. Andropov, when he was dying, tried to elevate Gorbachev above Konstantin Chernenko and make him his heir apparent, but the old guard in the Soviet leadership prevented this. There was also an attempt to prevent Gorbachev becoming de facto ‘second secretary’ after Chernenko succeeded Andropov in March 1984, but Gorbachev eventually became the clear number two within the party hierarchy and the obvious, and in the end unanimous, choice to succeed Chernenko as General Secretary when the latter died in March 1985. Meantime, Gorbachev had begun to show that he was a potential leader of a different kind by impressing Margaret Thatcher and the British public on a visit to the UK in December 1984 and, in the same month, making a speech in Moscow which castigated Soviet stereotypical thinking and introduced some of the new ideas that were to become so important during his years as General Secretary.

Keywords:   Yury Andropov, Leonid Brezhnev, Central Committee, Konstantin Chernenko, General Secretaryship, Mikhail Gorbachev, Politburo, social science, Margaret Thatcher

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