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December 22, 2016
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July 20, 2010
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October 1, 1984
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Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/20: CIA-RDP90-00552R000100890026-7 ARTICLE APPEARED ON PAGE /6 Nation Who's Running the Show? Andrei Gromyko's trip to the U.S. has given new urgency to a task that preoccupies Western experts on Soviet af- fairs: interpreting the current murky status of the Kremlin leadership. Says a top U.S. analyst in Washington: "We've got to get a better fix on who is running the show. This igno- rance could really screw up our decisions." The mystery facing the specialists deepened with the brief, repeated appearances on Moscow television last week of a strikingly frail Soviet Leader Konstantin Chernenko. The General Secretary, who took office in February, had vanished from public view on July 13, ostensibly to enjoy a summer vacation. He had been seen only once after that, presenting medals to three cosmonauts in a ten-minute film clip on the Sept. 6 Moscow evening news. Chernenko's latest appearances, within days of his 73rd birthday, were hastily arranged. One occasion was the presen- tation of the Order of Lenin ; to Harilaos Florakis, head of :-1 Party of Greece. During the proceedings, Chernenko looked visibly weaker than be had two weeks earlier. He leaned on the corner of a desk for support and had difficulty breathing as he read his prepared text. Three nights later, Cher- nenko turned up again on the news program, giving a strained, five-minute mes- sage to the Finnish people. The strange vignettes only confirmed what most Western analysts have sus- pected: Chernenko is in precarious health. In an ef- what to do. For the moment, it looks like a collective leader- ship with everyone very much in charge of his own portfo- lio." According to Middlebury College President Olin Robi- son, who has had frequent dealings with high-level Soviet officials, collective leadership in the Politburo has gradually grown more diffuse since Chernenko took office. Says he: "There is no longer any strong personality at the center The . people around Chernenko are stronger than he is." Those explanations dovetail nicely with the apparent rise in Gromyko's influence. He derives clout from long ex- perience as the Kremlin's top diplomat and a flawless record of clewing to the collective Politburo line. Says Uri Ra'anan, professor at Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Di- plomacy: "I am astounded at Gromyko's authority. He has absolutely no political power base." Agrees Pipes: "By de- fault, he has moved in." However complicated the Politburo's internal state of af- :airs, Chernenko's public appearances indicate an effort on the part of the leadership to keep his image at center stage. In- deed, some analysts specu- late that such recent Soviet actions as the harsh treat- ment of Dissident Andrei Sakharov and the pressure brought t9 bear on East Ger- man Party Leader Erich Honecker to cancel a trip to West Germany are similar bids to reinforce the regime's monolithic authority. An- other such incident may have been the sudden an- nouncement two weeks ago that Moscow's outspoken Military Chief of Staff and Deputy Defense Minister, Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, had been replaced. Last week a Soviet military offi- cial told a U.S. arms-control expert that Ogarkov had been named to head the fort to determine the extent Visibly weaker. Chernenko with Greek Party Leader Florakis o his ess, CIA experts have been running the viet-made clip of his Sept. 6 a - ranee t ou a so sticate in. anal er, frame by frame. Their conclusion: sni is were cut from th - MT e to eliminate some of hernenko's more obvious stumbles and trembling. Although an exact prognosis cannot ma e from a piece of celluloid, it is clear, says a senior British dip- lomat, that Chernenko "does not look like a man with too long to go before incapacity or death removes him from the scene." The Soviet leader is known to suffer from emphyse- ma and a heart condition. The real problem lies in deciding what relation, if any, exists between the state of Chernenko's health and the way decisions are being made in the twelve-man Soviet Politburo. Specialist opinion varies widely, but there is broad agree- ment that the Kremlin is preoccupied by the recurring prob- lem of succession. The process is more complicated and country's second-ranking military academy, a job transfer that Pipes calls "both a demotion and a humiliation." While Western analysts agree that the succession crisis is far from resolved, they point out that the Kremlin's options are limited. Adam Ulam, director of Harvard's Russian Re- search Center, and others note that any aspirant for the top Soviet leadership post must be both a full member of the Po- litburo and a secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee, which comprises more than 300 members. The importance of having those two titles became clear when Andropov was hastily made a party secretary as a prelude to assuming the top job. The only men who fit the bill. at the moment are two of the youngest Politburo members, Grigori Romanov, 61, and Mikhail Gorbachev, 53. U.S. analysts be- lieve that Gorbachev is now firmly established as the No. 2 man in the Kremlin Th d it h . us, esp e t e political sclerosis, painful than usual because it is the third period of uncertain- there are indications that the Politburo may be getting ready ty in two years (Leonid Brezhnev died in November 1982, to hand over power to a younger generation. Yuri Andropov last February). The upshot, says Harvard Part of the dead weight on the Politburo is the remorse- University Professor Richard Pipes, is "a profound crisis and lessly accumulating array of Soviet internal problems, ranging lack of direction." Kremlinologist Marshall Goldman of from agricultural failure to shrinking productivity to endemic Wellesley College in Massachusetts calls the Politburo situa- corruption. Recent experience has been that East-West ten- tion "the worst of all circumstances. Everyone knows Cher- sions fester when the Soviet leadership withdraws into a nenko is sick, so no change is possible." shell. The sight of Andrei Gromyko's familiar face in the Others take a slightly more sanguine view. Says a West- U.S. may be a signal that the Kremlin is aware of the need ern diplomat in Moscow: "I really think Chernenko is there for a new and healthier equilibrium. -By George Russell. just to keep the political mechanism going until they decide ReportedbyErik Amfitheatrof/MoscowandRichard Hernik/Knc}..,. Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/20: CIA-RDP90-00552R000100890026-7 STAT