Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev, increased his hold on the levers of power after adding the post of the Presidency to his growing list of titles.
Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev, increased his hold on the levers of power after adding the post of the Presidency to his growing list of titles. Mr. Brezhnev takes over from the former head of state, Nikolai Podgorny, who was ousted in disgrace on Thursday (16 June) following a decision by the country's Parliament, the Supreme Soviet.
SYNOPSIS: The 1500 members of the Supreme Soviet greeted Mr. Brezhnev with tumultuous applause...just moments after they elected him without debate, as the country's seventh President. Earlier, the Supreme Soviet approved a proposal to retire on full pension Mr. Podgorny, who is 74. The decision to drop Mr. Podgorny had been expected after he was dismissed from the Communist Party's ruling Politburo last month (May). Mr. Brezhnev is the first leader of the Soviet Union to combine the two jobs as Party chief and head of state. Only Joseph Stalin has held more power. Mr. Brezhnev, in accepting his new post, told the gathering that he realised the difficulties of holding both positions. He said it would be no easy matter. Normally emotional on occasions devoted to honouring him, Mr. Brezhnev appeared restrained when making his acceptance speech. The Soviet leader began his raise to power as a former steel mill engineer who served as a political commissar under Stalin in the army during World War Two.
Mr. Brezhnev has started his new job, not completely inexperienced. Already he's made several trips abroad as head of state. Western observers believe that Thursday's events give strong backing to suggestions that Mr. Podgorny's fall came because he refused to consider stepping down from the Presidency in place of Mr. Brezhnev, later this year.