Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 132

Galina Brezhneva, daughter of Soviet President and Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev, has died at the age of seventy. (Izvestia, July 2) Brezhneva played a small but prominent role in the Kremlin intrigues of the early 1980s that saw power pass from the Brezhnev gerontocracy to a new generation of Soviet leaders under Yuri Andropov and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Brezhneva was always an “enfant terrible.” In addition to three marriages, she was believed to have a string of lovers. This did not reach the pages of the party-controlled press until early 1982, when her father was already close to death and KGB chief Andropov was positioning himself in the succession stakes. At that time, rumors spread that Brezhneva and two of her friends–one, a circus director and the other, her lover, a singer from the Bolshoi Theater known as Boris the Gypsy–were engaged in a multimillion dollar racket in which diamonds were smuggled abroad hidden in the bodies of circus animals. Everyone understood that the rumors were being spread by the KGB, and the truth of the matter was less important than the fact that Andropov was using the corruption issue to discredit the old order.

Recording Brezhneva’s passing this week, Izvestia reaches a curious judgment on her life. “She broke no law,” the newspaper opines, “because the law was just not written for people like her.” Ultimately, the paper goes on, Galina was “a victim of the fawning and flattery of her father’s entourage. Social cynicism turned into private tragedy.” It seems an odd verdict. Brezhneva was never arrested or charged in connection with her alleged criminal activities. Several of her husbands came to sticky ends, but she herself is not known to have died anything other than a peaceful death of old age. It seems Izvestia has discovered the cult of the victim which has recently become so popular in the West.