Soviet Union A Tough Customer Shows His Stuff

Gorbachev puts his stamp on the 27th Party Congress

A nervous silence fell over the audience as the General Secretary paused to catch his breath. Throughout the opening day of the 27th Soviet Communist Party Congress, Mikhail Gorbachev, standing behind a polished wood lectern emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, had hectored and preached with passion and zeal. Caught by a momentary fit of coughing, he inhaled deeply and scanned the thousands of faces that filled the plush red seats before him. Offhandedly, Gorbachev remarked, "I am coming to the end." Hesitantly at first, then in mounting waves, appreciative laughter swept through the cavernous Kremlin Palace of Congresses.

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