On the surface, Andropov’s death on 9 February 1984 was treated much like Brezhnev’s. Soviet television played the same sober music, Pravda ran suitably deferential obituaries and his funeral was another piece of Party pageantry, from the goose-stepping honour guard to the mourners with their red armbands. Much had changed, though, in the past fifteen months. No one seriously could pretend there was no need for some sort of reform. The new leader, Konstantin Chernenko, was visibly sick. His breathing was difficult and he could not even read out the formal eulogy to Andropov without pausing for breath and losing his place in the script. In Muscovite circles, the assessment of the new General Secretary was ‘on ne tot’, ‘he is not the one’. There was a palpable sense that change was in the air, that the times would require a different leader and — judging from Chernenko’s appearance — that they would need him sooner rather than later.
KeywordsDefend Cobble Banner Reformer Prose
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