BEHIND THE HIGH KREMLIN WALLS by Vladimir & Elena Klepikova Solovyov

BEHIND THE HIGH KREMLIN WALLS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A rare glimpse inside the Soviet political structure, with special emphasis on the rise and the expectations of Mikhail Gorbachev. Solovyov and Klepikova write from the perspective of ex-Soviet journalists, a profession which they followed until leaving Russia in 1977 under threat of arrest. (Prior to this, they had founded the first independent news agency in Russia, not a particularly good business risk.) Using their network of internal Russian sources and ÉmigrÉs, they have patched together a picture of the machinations from Khruschev through Gorbachev, with attention to the aged triumvirate of Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko, and how the groundwork was laid for the current leader. The authors make the interesting observation that right from the start, every Soviet leader has adopted a nostalgic stance, each acting in opposition to his predecessor's basic policies and, actually, from Stalin on, following in the footsteps of his predecessor's predecessor. Thus, Stalin was an incarnation of Russain tsardom; Krushchev sought to restore the purity of the Leninist vision; Brezhnev sought to restore the privileges of Stalinism, though with a spicing of detente; Andropov attempted to do so in a more KGB-inspired, tough, Stalinist way; Chernenko tried to return back to his old buddy Brezhnev's detentism, and Gorbachev was tutored directly under Andropov. In fact, the authors claim, Andropov is the eminence grise of the whole Soviet story, having exerted much influence as KGB chief prior to his accession and having set up the entire immediate future of Soviet politics from his deathbed, to the extent that Gorbachev really lacks much of the freedom that the West attributes to him (and even lacks the Supreme Party title that grants unlimited power). A chapter on the Polish problem heaps praise on Jaruzelski for having known just how far to push freedom in Poland prior to taking over and tightening up to avoid a Russian invasion. Poland, they contend, is still the freest of Eastern European countries. This is a book of keen insights into a system that remains steeped in mystery. It follows upon the heels of the authors' previous Yuri Andropov: A Secret Passage into the Kremlin, and offers an astuteness that gets us past the Soviet facade to the reality of the Kremlin's inner workings.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
Publisher: Dodd, Mead