Russia: At the Kremlin Corral

At the Kremlin gates, the boys were unceremoniously frisked for hidden weapons. Then Russia's rulers hurried to the Politburo conference room for an emergency meeting. It was June 1953.

Not since Stalin's death three months earlier had the men at the top seemed so jittery. Suety Georgy Malenkov nervously eyed dour old Vyacheslav Molotov, his longtime rival for Stalin's favor and now his partner, along with Lavrenty Beria, in the triumvirate chosen to run Russia. Even bouncy Nikita Khrushchev was unwontedly subdued. Only prim, beady-eyed Beria, Russia's top cop, seemed unconcerned. Of all the men in the conference room and an...

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