Soviets: Crucial Players in the Power Game

Four who are likely to have a major role in Gorbachev's fortunes

One is the son of a peasant who began his career as an agronomist and ended up as a master of the diplomatic arts. Another is a former shipyard engineer with a reputation for rudeness and arrogance. A third is a tough fighter against corruption who once reportedly fell into disfavor and was sent packing to Cuba as Ambassador. And the fourth is a former KGB chief from the Muslim south. This is the quartet of crucial players who will determine how smoothly and how quickly Mikhail Gorbachev will be able to accumulate power.

The four, all members of the Politburo,...

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