Day: December 15, 2006

Brezhnev at 100

RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Tatar-Bashkir, and Ukrainian services have all contributed to a report on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonid Brezhnev. Excerpt:

Golzada Rzayeva is a 58-year-old living in Chally in the republic of Tatarstan. Also known as Naberezhnyye Chelny, the city between 1982 and 1988 enjoyed a brief period under a third name — Brezhnev.

Rzayeva, the longtime head of the local cultural center, says she has good memories of the Brezhnev era.

“This was a very good, youthful time, we lived with youthful enthusiasm, without problems. There was just one problem at that time: finding nice clothes,” Rzayeva said.

Vyacheslav Komarov, a 69-year-old pensioner, is similarly enthusiastic. Komarov lives in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine’s third-largest city and a key industrial center in the Soviet Union that is also a short distance from Brezhnev’s birthplace of Dneprodzherzhinsk.

Under Brezhnev’s rule, Komarov worked at a restricted weapons facility. But even such a serious occupation, he says, did not prevent employees from taking time to enjoy themselves at work.

“Under Brezhnev, feasts and parties were permitted. On any holiday, even on Paris Commune day, we got together, set the table, and had a nice party at work. We were always having some kind of celebration,” Komarov said.

Russia’s ORT television station is marking the 100th anniversary of Brezhnev’s birth by broadcasting a film depicting the Soviet leader as a kindly soul who loved his wife, fought for the common man, and was ultimately duped by sinister associates like former KGB head Yury Andropov.

And there are the jokes:

“After a speech Brezhnev shouts at his speech writer: ‘I ordered you to write a 15-minute speech, but it took me a whole hour to read!’ ‘Sorry, Leonid Ilyich,’ he answered, ‘there were four copies, and you read them all.’

Alla Dudayeva Interview


Sobesednik has published an interview with Alla Dudayeva, Dzhokhar Dudayev’s widow. Chechnya Weekly has a resume of some of the highlights:


Alla Dudaeva, widow of the Chechen leader Djokhar Dudaev, gave an extensive interview to Sobesednik that was published on December 11, the twelfth anniversary of the start of the first Chechen war. Dudaeva, who is now living with her son in Lithuania, told the Russian weekly that after the death of her husband, who was killed in a Russian air strike in April 1996, she was interrogated by Aleksandr Litvinenko, the dissident Federal Security Service (FSB) officer recently murdered with Polonium-210 in London. “Djokhar had just been killed, and we were preparing to fly with the whole family to Turkey, but we were arrested in Nalchik [the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria],” Dudaeva recalled. “I was interrogated by a specially dispatched young officer, who introduced himself as `Colonel Aleksandr Volkov.’ He joked that it was not an accidental last name…After some time, I saw him on television next to [tycoon Boris] Berezovsky and found out his real last name – Litvinenko.” According to Dudaeva, during the interrogation, Litvinenko wanted to find out “the truth” about her husband’s death. “The special services were worried that he might have survived and escaped abroad,” she told Sobesednik.

In the Sobesednik interview, Dudaeva gave her version of how her husband was tracked down and killed. “Djokhar received his satellite telephone as a present from [then] Turkish Prime Minister [Negemuddeen] Arbakan,” she said. “As the phone was being assembled in Turkey, Turkish leftists with connections to the Russian special services, through a spy, placed a special microchip in it [the satellite phone]…A Turkish Internet newspaper wrote about this in 2001. In addition, a system of round-the-clock surveillance of Djokhar Dudaev’s telephone was set up in the Signet Super Computer Center located in the state of Maryland in the United States [an apparent reference to a putative NSA facility]. The U.S. National Security Agency transmitted information about the location and telephone conversations of Djokhar Dudaev to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on a daily basis. Turkey received that dossier. And leftist Turkish military officers handed the dossier over to the Russian FSB. Djokhar knew that a hunt for him had begun. When the [satellite phone’s] connection would be broken after a minute, he would joke: `So, they’ve already figured it out?’ But, all the same, he was sure his telephone wouldn’t be located.”

Dudaeva said that “Chechen oil” is the reason why the Chechen conflict continues. “As soon as the former Kremlin protégé Akhmat Kadyrov tried to take control of it [Chechen oil] and announced this publicly, he was blown up there and then,” she told Sobesednik. (The elder Kadyrov was killed in a bomb explosion in Grozny in May 2004). “And he was most likely killed by those whose `property’ he was encroaching on. The uncontrolled extraction of oil is possible only when a war is going on. Therefore, as soon as someone begins to demand peace talks, he is immediately killed. Those who are stealing oil are also sharing it with their associates at the top.”