Did the "Andropov project" really exist?
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov served as head of the CPSU and head of the Soviet state for quite a bit, only 15 months. But, unlike all other Soviet leaders, he came there after many years of work in the responsible post of the chairman of the all-powerful KGB, which he headed for 15 long years. Perhaps that is why we see a huge jumble of myths and legends in modern historical literature on Andropov. Conspiracy theories about Andropov's alleged plans to carry out significant political and socio-economic reforms in the USSR, including the restoration of capitalism and even the dissolution of the USSR itself, are expressed by a number of historical publicists.
It can be argued that the demonization of the personality of Yuri Andropov is somewhat reminiscent of a similar demonization of another prominent leader of the domestic special services - Lavrenty Beria, who was also credited with similar destructive plans, in order to justify his arrest and subsequent liquidation at the direction of Nikita Khrushchev and his associates.
At the same time, two mutually exclusive myths about Yuri Andropov compete in the information space, but in both cases we are dealing with a desire to present his role in a negative light.
In one case, Andropov appears as a mysterious organizer of a conspiracy of some pro-Western forces in the ruling Soviet nomenclature, which was implemented during the years of perestroika, and the reforms of Gaidar and Chubais were prepared by a well-known team of economic experts since the time of Andropov and under his direct supervision.
In another case, Andropov is portrayed as an insidious leader (limited by Nikita Khrushchev) of the powerful Soviet secret police, who wanted to establish KGB control over the party and the country, revise the decisions of the XNUMXth Congress of the CPSU on criticizing the Stalin personality cult, and return the country to a time of mass repression.
It is curious that the original version of the existence of the "Andropov project", allegedly implemented during the years of perestroika, belongs to the writer and former Soviet intelligence officer Mikhail Lyubimov, who published in the newspaper "Top Secret" in 1995 a conspiracy hoax novel "Operation Calvary" a secret plan of perestroika ", which was an artistic fiction and did not at all pretend to be completely historical.
There is also a clear dislike for Andropov on the part of some representatives of the conservative soil camp, who asserted that it was he who, being at the head of the KGB, opposed a certain “Russian party” and supporters of the revival of Russian national traditions, persecuted Russian nationalists, the so-called “Russianists”. Particularly distinguished was the publicist and writer Sergei Semanov, whose career in the Brezhnev era suffered from the persecution of the KGB due to accusations of nationalism.
According to another version, while serving as editor-in-chief of the magazine "Man and Law", he took part in the Kremlin intrigues, publishing incriminating materials on influential persons close to Leonid Brezhnev at the suggestion of the same KGB, for which he was removed from office. In a number of conspiracy books, characterized by outright hostility to Yuri Andropov, more like settling personal scores, the author portrays him as a dangerous careerist, hostile to the interests of the country, the Soviet state and the Russian people. He devotes a significant part of these texts to a dubious study of Andropov's ethnic origin and the search for hidden liberals and foreigners in his entourage, and the Soviet party and statesman Otto Kuusinen, who promoted Yuri Andropov at the initial stage of his party career, is even suspected of secret belonging to the Freemasons!
On the other hand, in the anti-Soviet literature of the third wave of emigration, the figure of Andropov was also demonized. The most striking example of such a tendentious interpretation of Andropov's role as a failed new "tyrant-Stalinist" is the book "Conspirators in the Kremlin", acting as American Sovietologists for a married couple of emigrants from the USSR, Vladimir Solovyov and Elena Klepikova. Under the pen of these authors, Andropov appears in the role of an insidious intriguer, an "inspired imperial" striving for a one-man dictatorship, inciting chauvinistic sentiments and planning to "tighten the screws" in the country as much as possible. They argued that
“Andropov's coup exposed the police essence of the Soviet state, when the party itself became a formal appendage of the KGB. The entire course of Russian history has led to the fact that the secret police is the highest product of the country's political development. "
Yes, of course, with the arrival of Yuri Andropov to the leadership of the KGB, the role of this organization has increased, and its status has changed even formally.
Andropov headed the department in 1967, when it was called the State Security Committee under the USSR Council of Ministers. Under Andropov's leadership in 1978, the status of the KGB increased, it became an independent state committee called the State Security Committee, expanded its zones of activity, including the creation of district offices of the KGB. At the end of the 60s, the department of the Central Committee of the CPSU for the fight against so-called ideological sabotage was disbanded, and its functions were transferred to one of the KGB departments.
However, there are no sufficient grounds to assert that the KGB, with the coming to power in the party and country of Andropov, suppressed the party and the Politburo. We must not forget that during the reign of first Nikita Khrushchev and then Leonid Brezhnev, a peculiar system of collective leadership developed, and the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee was not able to make fundamental decisions without the consent of other members of the Politburo. This system, under which all the main decisions, including those concerning the activities of the State Security Committee, were made at the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, was preserved under Andropov, and under Chernenko, and under Gorbachev.
The KGB continued to be one of the most important instruments of power at the top of the CPSU. The KGB, like the Prosecutor's Office of the USSR and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was subordinate to one of the departments of the Central Committee of the CPSU and acted in accordance with party directives. Moreover, shortly before the death of the then already ill Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov left the post of head of the KGB and became secretary of the Central Committee for ideological issues.
Paradoxically, political scientist Sergei Kurginyan shares this view of Andropov's plans to establish the dominance of the KGB over the party and ideological structures of the CPSU. However, in his interpretation, this plan provided not only the rejection of the communist ideology, but also the implementation of reforms in order to include the USSR in the orbit of influence of the collective West. Whereas historian Roy Medvedev, on the contrary, believes that
"Andropov, as a politician, did not at all intend to take the KGB organs out of the control and leadership of the Politburo and the Secretariat of the Central Committee."
At the same time, there is no doubt about Yuri Andropov's intention to start modernization reforms in the country. But researchers did not agree on the nature of these reform plans.
One position proceeds from the fact that Andropov's policy was reduced to a number of measures to establish elementary order and changes in the management of the national economy, which did not go beyond the framework of the existing socio-economic system. This point of view is generally held by the historian Roy Medvedev in the biography of Andropov "General Secretary from the Lubyanka." But he does not deny the intention of Andropov and his entourage to search for new ways of reforming the Soviet economy, albeit within a certain established ideological framework of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine.
“A kind of headquarters for working out ways of economic development began to form around Andropov. This caused a general revival of economic thought in the country, the discussion was held on a variety of issues, and many articles appeared in the press that could not have seen the light of day even a year or two ago,
- Roy Medvedev writes. At the same time, Medvedev believes that Yuri Andropov himself
"Demanded to restore order, but was not capable of major reforms within the party and Soviet society."
Another point of view is that Andropov and his team of political and economic advisers and referents were ready to make significant changes, at least in the economy. In fact, we are talking about the Chinese version of the reforms, which was carried out by Deng Xiaoping, but with domestic specifics, since the USSR was, in contrast to Maoist China, a much more developed industrial power.
According to the historian Yevgeny Spitsyn, Andropov planned to carry out economic reforms in the spirit of NEP with the introduction of a market economy, including the idea of convergence of socialist and capitalist methods of management. However, one should not forget that the ideas of such a convergence, although clearly in a form unacceptable for the ruling regime, were proposed in his articles by Academician Andrei Sakharov, and Andropov considered it correct and necessary to exile and isolate him in the city of Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod).
E. Spitsyn, in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper on February 27, 2018, also believes that Andropov sought to abandon the tough ideological confrontation with the West and agree on the division of spheres of influence on the principle of a new Yalta, but at the same time pursue a course towards integrating the USSR national economy into the world economy. However, after President Ronald Reagan came to power in the United States, who declared the fight against the USSR as an "evil empire" as the goal of his foreign policy, and the South Korean civilian Boeing shot down over Soviet territory, the opportunities for a "new detente" policy were minimal.
In practice, the short period of Yuri Andropov's tenure at the head of the country was accompanied by a sharp exacerbation of Soviet-American relations, unseen since the Caribbean crisis, and the policy of detente, which began during the reign of Leonid Brezhnev in the first half of the 70s, has become a thing of the past.
Since the Soviet Union was a country with a dominant official ideology called Marxism-Leninism, Yuri Andropov understood perfectly well that any practical reforms and transformations are impossible without an appropriate ideological justification. That is why he began with theory, appearing in the magazine "Communist" (the theoretical organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU) with the program article "The Teachings of Karl Marx and Some Questions of Socialist Construction in the USSR", which immediately became mandatory for study in party organizations, in universities and in production ...
The true author of the text was the collective of the magazine, headed by its editor-in-chief Richard Kosolapov, a man of orthodox communist and neo-Stalinist views, dismissed from this post by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 at the dawn of perestroika. In this rather traditional text, the existence of a number of difficulties in the development of the country was recognized and the important task of accelerated mechanization and automation of production was posed. The article emphasized that the share of manual and non-mechanized labor in industry alone reaches 40%. The fact that the preparation of such an important text was entrusted to an explicit conservative testifies to Andropov's adherence to the official ideological doctrine of Marxism-Leninism, which he did not intend to abandon at all. Another thing is that the ideology in the late USSR was largely formal and ritual in nature and, in the opinion of a number of its critics, only camouflaged the imperial and bureaucratic-police character of the regime.
The version, popular among liberal anti-communist authors, about Andropov's desire, under the slogan of restoring order, to turn to repressive methods of government and the intention to return the country to the “dark days of Stalinism,” and supposedly only his death stopped this process, seems quite controversial. Roy Medvedev categorically disagrees with this in his book. Noting that Andropov was not a Stalinist, he quotes his words from a conversation with the arrested dissident V. Krasin:
“Nobody will allow the revival of Stalinism. You remember well what happened under Stalin. By the way, I was also expecting an arrest after the war from day to day. I was then the second secretary of the Karelo-Finnish republic. The first secretary was arrested. I was expecting to be arrested, too, but it got carried away. "
It is also known that Andropov, heading the KGB, did not agree with the proposal to begin the persecution of the poet and singer Vladimir Vysotsky, on which the then chief ideologist Mikhail Suslov insisted. He maintained personal contacts with the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, known for his anti-Stalinist views, and the Taganka Theater, popular among the intelligentsia. With the assistance of Andropov's daughter Irina, the well-known disgraced literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin was returned from exile.
Before being appointed head of the KGB, as is known, Andropov was ambassador to Hungary during the suppression of the 1956 uprising, and then headed the department of the Central Committee of the CPSU for relations with the communist and workers' parties of socialist countries. As Roy Medvedev emphasizes, it was in Andropov's department that such scientists, politicians, journalists and diplomats as F. Burlatsky, G. Arbatov, A. Bovin, G. Shakhnazarov, O. Bogomolov began their party-political careers. According to Medvedev, “he and the staff of his department in 1965-1966. to a greater extent they sympathized with the opponents of Stalinism. "
It should be clarified here that, according to the unofficial terminology of those years, “Stalinists” meant supporters of tightening the political regime and ideological control over the population, while adherents of liberalization and reforming the existing system called themselves “anti-Stalinists”. In many ways, the origins of the legend or version of Andropov's far-reaching reform projects are associated with the activities of this consultative group, which was created and supported by him for a long time. According to the testimony of Fyodor Burlatsky himself, almost all of its members "were distinguished by free-thinking and a thirst for change," and "Andropov liked this intellectual freeman." (F. Burlatsky "Leaders and Advisers", 1990).
Roy Medvedev also reports that Andropov received from his advisers Georgy Shakhnazarov and Georgy Arbatov proposals for democratization and liberalization of political and cultural life in the country, but he assessed them as premature. While promoting Mikhail Gorbachev up the career ladder, he nevertheless noted his haste in making political decisions, and about Alexander Yakovlev, who was appointed director of IMEMO, he said that he had lived for a long time in a capitalist country and was "reborn" there.
Despite harsh criticism of Andropov's actions, both as head of the KGB and as head of the party and state, dissident historian Roy Medvedev, expelled from the party in 1969 for his book "To the Court of History" about the repressions of Stalinist times, admits that the reign of Yuri Andropov was a step forward compared to the Brezhnev era. His new course opened up certain prospects for Soviet society as a whole and for overcoming the large-scale corruption that had developed at that time. In the fight against this phenomenon and the so-called "Dnipropetrovsk mafia", he sees, of course, a positive role for Yuri Andropov. The arrest of Tregubov, the head of the Glavtorg of the Moscow City Executive Committee, followed by another 25 senior officials of the Glavtorg and directors of the largest department stores and grocery stores, caught up with a considerable horror on the mafia clans. The case of the director of the Eliseevsky grocery store, Sokolov, also received a great public response.
In general, the active steps taken by the new leader of the Soviet state during the short period of his stay in power allow us to conclude that it was about reforms that provide for the search for new ways of economic development, including the fight against "shadow economists", and at the same time expanding the use of market mechanisms ... In early 1983, a special Economic Department was created in the Central Committee of the CPSU to develop a full-scale economic reform. Scientists A. Aganbegyan, O. Bogomolov, T. Zaslavskaya, L. Abalkin, N. Petrakov were involved in the work, who subsequently took an active part in reforming the economy during the perestroika period initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev.
In 1984, an experiment began to restructure the management of industry, enterprises and associations. Its main goal was to increase the responsibility and rights and independence of enterprises. This should have led to the establishment of a closer relationship between the final results of labor and the size of the wage fund.
However, Roy Medvedev believes that Andropov
"He intended to establish a tough order in the country, based more on harsh discipline, and not at all on democracy, glasnost and a multi-party system." But "he intended to carry out broad, but cautious economic reforms, undoubtedly, hoped to completely remove the" Dnipropetrovsk mafia "from power and create a new leadership group in the party",
- the historian thinks.
And the well-known anti-Soviet emigrant and historical publicist A. Avtorkhanov in his tendentious book "From Andropov to Gorbachev" characterized Andropov as "a full-blooded, strong-willed, inventive and cold politician, a crystal purely Stalinist leaven, that is why he sought to establish police order within the country, and the collective gradually remove the leadership. "
Therefore, it should be assumed with a reasonable degree of probability that the myth of the Andropov project as some kind of anti-patriotic conspiracy to liquidate the USSR will go down in history along with other such historical fakes as the Testament of Peter the Great, the Letter of Grigory Zinoviev, the Allen Dulles Plan, etc.
The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci wrote:
“The old order is dying, but the new one still cannot replace it. Many malignant symptoms occur during this period. ”
Two prominent Russian statesmen Pyotr Stolypin and Yuri Andropov, the first at the beginning and the second at the end of the XNUMXth century, unsuccessfully tried to rid the state and society of these malignant symptoms and at the same time preserve the old order. Both the one and the other did not succeed for various reasons.
In honor of the holiday of the Day of State Security Workers on December 20, 1999, a bas-relief of the KGB chairman Yuri Andropov was again installed over entrance No. 1-A of the building of the Federal Security Service of Russia on Lubyanka in Moscow. In this entrance, on the third floor, there was the office of Andropov, who headed the KGB from 1967 to 1982. Now it houses a museum. The memorial plaque was smashed during the events of August 1991 by the rally participants, when, as is known, the monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky was demolished, and then dismantled.
This act of restoration of the memorial plaque by Yu.V. Andropov had a certain symbolic meaning. This was the period when the Russian government was headed by Vladimir Putin, who previously held the post of head of the FSB (successor to the KGB), who soon succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president of Russia.