The Soviets: Changing the Guard

After Brezhnev's 18-year rule, the U.S.S.R. gets an enigmatic new leader

After Brezhnev's 18-year rule, the U.S.S.R. gets an enigmatic new leader

The first hint came at 7:15 p.m. Moscow time on Wednesday. Nikolai Shchelokov, the Minister for Public Order, had just delivered a brief television address to celebrate Militia Day, and millions of Soviet viewers were awaiting the live pop concert that was supposed to follow. Instead, without explanation, a film about Lenin was broadcast. Then, at 9, came Vremya (Time), the nightly news. The announcers, who usually dress informally, wore dark jackets or dresses. "I ran to my...

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