Soviet Union the Succession Problem

As rumors fly about Chernenko, Moscow faces another leadership dilemma

For more than a month, the questions and rumors have been piling up like snow flurries around the red-brown walls of the Kremlin. Where is Konstantin Chernenko, who was last seen on Dec. 27, handing out awards at a televised ceremony? How sick is he? Is the frail Soviet party leader and President, who suffers from a pulmonary disorder, dying? Is he about to resign? Above all, who will succeed him?

The mystery of the missing General Secretary of the Communist Party intensified last week. In Moscow, Politburo Member Mikhail Gorbachev, 53, viewed by many as the heir apparent to the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!