Soviet Union: Rumors of a New Kremlin Chill

Rumors of a New Kremlin Chill

The Warsaw Pact meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, last week was to have been the first gathering of the seven-member organization's top leaders since January 1983. It was considered particularly significant since it followed the resumption of U.S.-Soviet arms talks. Then came the brief announcement from TASS: the conference had been postponed. To many Kremlin watchers, there was only one possible explanation, as voiced by a senior British diplomat: "A deterioration in Soviet President Konstantin Chernenko's health."

Chernenko is thought to be suffering from chronic emphysema; traveling during the cold snap that has gripped Europe might have worsened his condition at a...

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