The Soviet Union adopted a new constitution on Friday (7 October) and elected 76-year old Mr.
SV Leonid Brezhnev entering hall at Kremlin in Moscow and being applauded
SV Members of Supreme Soviet applauding
SV PAN Brezhnev arrives on speaker's rostrum
SV Members applauding
SV Brezhnev speaking
SV PAN Applause
There had been speculation in Moscow that Mr. Brezhnev, who is 70, would use the deputy's post to groom a successor. But the appointment of a man six years his senior appeared to explode this theory and to defer the succession issue. Mr. Brezhnev evidently planned instead to make use of his deputy to perform tiring protocol and other state duties.
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Background: The Soviet Union adopted a new constitution on Friday (7 October) and elected 76-year old Mr. Vasily Kuznetsov as the new Soviet Vice-President. The Supreme Soviet took just 70 minutes to hear two speeches from President Leonid Brezhnev, take a score of votes and elect Mr. Kuznetsov tot eh newly-created post. The constitution became law the moment it was passed at the end of a four-day special session of the Soviet Parliament. Under the new charter the state pledges to protect the environment, guarantee housing and pursue and peaceful policy aimed at strengthening "the positions of socialism" abroad.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Brezhnev received a warm welcome when he arrived at the Kremlin to address the session, which was summoned chiefly to approve the new constitution. The 1,500 deputies did that without a dissenting vote.
Known unofficially as the "Brezhnev" constitution, it replaces one by Stalin enacted in 1936 and is the fourth since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Now, for the first time, the Communist Party is legally acknowledged as the leading force in Soviet society and core of the system.
Western diplomats said the elevation of Mr. Kuznetsov, previously deputy foreign minister, to his new post did not signify a shift in the Kremlin balance of power.
Mr. Brezhnev hailed the occasion as "one of the greatest in the life of the Soviet people". He proposed that October 7 be proclaimed a national holiday, instead of the Stalin constitution day on December 5. The proposal was approved unanimously.
The Kremlin chief declared that they had created the constitution as a "stage prop" which will become a powerful instrument in the further development and deepening of socialist democracy.