Soviet Union Sick Leave: Chernenko rumors abound

Chernenko rumors abound

How sick is Konstantin Chernenko?

The topic is discussed constantly in Moscow these days, for clearly understandable reasons. The Soviet party leader and President, 73, who is believed to be suffering from emphysema, has been absent from public view for about a month. Soviet television last showed an apparently frail Chernenko on Dec. 27, handing out awards at a Kremlin ceremony. Three days earlier he had missed the funeral of Defense Minister Dmitri Ustinov, held in Red Square on a bitterly cold day.

By its own secretive standards, the Kremlin has been relatively candid about the fact that Chernenko is having...

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