“GO AND DRINK AS FOLLOWS!”
Victor Chebrikov was born in 1923 in Yekaterinoslav. I managed to finish the first course of the metallurgical institute, and then the war broke out. “Of the fellow students, only two of us returned ...” - Victor Mikhailovich bitterly recalled half a century later. In the trenches, he got after accelerated courses Zhytomyr Military Infantry School. Not once looked death in the eye. He fought on the front line at Stalingrad, liberated Kharkov, participated in the battle of Kursk, crossed the Dnieper. Here, during the fighting, joined the party. The victory was met by a major, battalion commander in Czechoslovakia.
He rarely told anyone how in the middle of the war he got into a penalty. I walked around the posts, saw a trophy pistol from some of the soldiers, took inquiring what a thing was, and take the pistol and shoot it. The bullet seriously injured the officer. The culprit was convicted. “The penalty box had three ways: the first was to die, the second was to accomplish the feat, the third, the most unreal, was to survive. I chose the second path - I brought from the intelligence of the “tongue”: at night, crawled up to the enemy’s trench in the night, stunned the German. The conviction was lifted.
During the war was twice hard and once moderately wounded. Plus contusion and frostbite. The first award was the commander of the Order of Alexander Nevsky. In battles he “gained” another Order of the Red Banner and the medal “For Courage”.
After the war, he wanted to enter the Frunze Academy, but the medical board rejected it by sight. He returned to the city on the Dnieper, where he returned to college, married a classmate Zina. Chebrikov lived in a happy marriage for more than half a century. From 1950, he worked as an engineer at a metallurgical plant. Soon his business qualities and erudition were evaluated - they called in the district party committee to head the industrial department.
Working in the district committee and remaining a party organizer in his own factory, Chebrikov, within three years, together with the administration, took the company from the unprofitable to the profitable one. He did not get out of other factories, mines, construction sites. Probably, he was happy that he was involved in the visible large-scale changes that occurred in his small homeland. And when he was offered the post of first secretary of the Poltava (industrial) regional committee, he refused. After some time, they began to tempt him with the post of head of the industrial department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine. He was not deceived again. And in 1967, by the time he had been working as the second secretary of the regional committee for three years, he was suddenly summoned to Moscow. Believed, entrust any "missing" region in the expanses of a great country. But what was offered to him totally amazed him.
Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev took him closer to the night. The head of state was tense. Later Chebrikov found out that in front of him the assistants of Leonid Ilyich unsuccessfully fumbled one comrade to go to work in the KGB, but he flatly refused, and the secretary general decided to speak with another “challenger” himself.
“Here Yury,” as Brezhnev called Andropov in conversations, “was put on the KGB. Things are not so hot with us. It takes several people to strengthen the organs. "
“It’s as if I stuck to a chair,” Chebrikov recalled this conversation. - I say to the general with a parched throat: "Leonid Ilyich, excuse me, you may not be aware of, but I have never worked for the KGB." - “Did Yura ... did Comrade Andropov work?” That's it ... Nothing, you will master. You have a different experience: you fought, this is your first order — commander-in-chief! ”(He carefully studied my objective, with which I was sent to him). And then I agreed: “What kind of party will we be if the Communists refuse the instructions of the Secretary General of the Central Committee? I’ll work there! ”I see that he breathed a sigh of relief:“ Well done! ”I immediately spoke with Andropov, after which he said to me:“ Go to Andropov’s first entrance to the KGB tomorrow in 10 hours. Now go and have a good drink. ”
In the summer of 1967, the lieutenant colonel Chebrikov (he received this rank as a political worker) was again called up for service. 24 July he was given the rank of colonel, and 27 October of the same year made a major general. Subsequent higher officer ranks he received every five to six years.
Chebrikov had good relations with the new KGB chairman. The unpleasant incident due to the fact that Andropov misunderstood something at the beginning of their joint work happened only once, but was quickly exhausted, and more than this did not happen again.
Viktor Mikhailovich believed that Yuri Vladimirovich was a very large-scale figure, a wise man. “Not smart, but wise,” he stressed. “And well-read, very erudite: I followed all the novelties, read avidly.” He was a tough, but not directing subordinate fear, not a liberal, but a leader who believed that it was not always necessary to act with punitive methods: “Whatever they say now, but if it were not for Andropov’s firm position, people convicted by the KGB would would be much more. He wanted to work according to the law. Now you can argue what the laws were then - good or bad - but these were laws. Few people know that it was Yury Vladimirovich who broke through the resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR “On official warning” when the KGB was given the opportunity, without bringing people to justice, to lead them away from a crime. The emphasis was on prevention. ”
It was with the arrival of Andropov and the team chosen for him that the myths about the omnipotence of the KGB, total wiretaps, “Moscow’s long arm” appeared. Chebrikov also assesses that period: “I can say with confidence that the state security agencies worked without extremes. We did not take suspicion right and left. ”
“It is necessary to understand that,” he also explained, “that the decisive word in everything at that time was behind the party, the Central Committee, the Politburo, the general secretary. The KGB is credited with an independent political role that the committee in my memory has never played. When solving some issues, we listened to our opinion, while others did not. For example, after the well-known events in Poland at the beginning of the 1980s, the question arose of bringing our troops there. Representatives of the security agencies were called to Brezhnev, as they say now. At first he accepted the military, and they, as I understood from their mood at the exit from his office, managed to win over the secretary general to his side. I entered last. He presented to him the committee’s opinion on the possible disastrous consequences for our country for such a decision: the economic, political and cultural boycott, for Poland is not Afghanistan, the West’s reaction will be much harsher. Brezhnev agreed with our opinion. But, I repeat, this was not always the case. ”
Chebrikov was, let's say, a product of his time. “Whatever may be said about this work now, it was the most important direction in the confrontation of the two systems,” he believed when he was retired long ago. “Our opponents spent enormous forces and resources to take the ideological core out of the Soviet system.”
“The large number of our agents among the creative intelligentsia in those years is greatly exaggerated,” Chebrikov said. - Those who really helped us, brought real benefits: with their help, it was possible to extinguish conflicts in groups that were the pride of the country on time - in the Bolshoi Theater, for example, in creative unions. I had to spend a lot of time and delve into affairs that are not directly related to state security. ”
In the KGB, valued by Andropov, Chebrikov made a brilliant career: he quickly moved forward, became deputy, and then first deputy chairman. In 1980, he was awarded the State Prize. For what? Viktor Mikhailovich told something about this: “As deputy chairman, I was in charge of the OTU — operational and technical management, where all the necessary equipment for our divisions was created, and I myself directed the creation of some very necessary and original devices. For one of them, the team of creators was awarded the State Prize ”.
Already after the death of Andropov, in 1985, Chebrikov was awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor (not for some of his personal jubilee, as it was then). He never went into details about the circumstances of receiving a high award, explained in an interview at the end of 1990: “It was a secret decree. As well as about awarding the State Prize. Even now, I can't tell you about it. ”
In the same year, the new Secretary General, Mikhail Gorbachev, who was elected to the highest post in the country, not without significant support from Chebrikov, proclaimed restructuring. Those who were branded yesterday as “renegades” became “national heroes”, individuals who “suffered” the arrival of a long-awaited democracy, deputies. Researchers of that period note that in the conditions of endless political improvisations and rushings generated by the Kremlin, the work of the KGB was gradually disoriented. The chairman himself could no longer deal with intelligence matters in detail; it was difficult for him to digest both information flows coming from abroad and internal ones. He did not even have time to master the wisdom and subtleties of the international situation.
Indeed, Chebrikov’s colleagues of that time recall that their boss lost confidence and from the always calm and benevolent person at times turned into a hot-tempered and irritable.
Politburo member Yegor Ligachev talked about Chebrikov of that time, commenting on some evidence that the KGB chairman looked like a man constantly sullen and gloomy: “Well, what can you do, this character. He was a bit withdrawn, at first glance a somewhat stern, but calm, reliable person, and we all believed him. He did not look into Gorbachev’s mouth. He is one of the few who could and argue with due tact, try to convince and hold their line. "
In Gorbachev, Viktor Mikhailovich was disappointed about two years after the opening of gates of publicity. Later, he seemed to be offended by the last general secretary for lying shamelessly about the fact that he, the head of state, allegedly knew nothing about the use of troops in Tbilisi in 1989. “He still continues to assert this, in his memoirs he writes that when it all began, he was abroad, and then everything happened without his knowledge,” Chebrikov said a decade later after those tragic events. - In fact, I myself called him, reported the situation and requested sanction for the use of troops. And who, besides the Supreme Commander, could have given such an order ?! ”
“The architect of perestroika” Alexander Yakovlev (they called him an agent of influence) recalled the KGB chairman: “We differed with him in describing the dissident movement, his motives and actions ...” This apparently went to some extreme, and Gorbachev asked both members of the Politburo to explain. After work, the disputants met at the KGB safe house and “exchanged views” until four in the morning. Yakovlev argued that political persecution must stop, otherwise democratic transformations are impossible. Chebrikov, however, showed Yakovlev that there are quite a few activists who receive money from foreign special services for clearly anti-Soviet activities.
By October 1988, according to researchers, Gorbachev, who suspected the KGB of concealing important information, accused the head of the committee of “political blindness” and dismissed Chebrikov from the post of KGB chairman, and a year later he sent him to retire.
Chebrikov at that time was 66 years. He accepted the invitation of the singer and State Duma deputy Iosif Kobzon to work as the head of his guard. Of course, he did not walk with a holster under his arm and did not open the doors of the cars in front of the “boss”. Only advised. And Kobzon was probably flattered: how, then, the former head of the KGB himself guards him! Chebrikov's demise, which occurred on July 1 of the year 1999, caught this “private post”. Viktor Mikhailovich was buried at the Troekurovsky cemetery in Moscow.
“Is it possible to revive a secret service of the same order as the KGB of the times of Adropov?” Asked Chebrikov's journalists. He replied: “I think there will be no KGB in the previous volume. The main thing is that, despite all the difficulties, today's security officers could find their place, bring results in their work ... State security cannot play an independent role. But, as soon as the political line of the state becomes firm, there will be success in the fight against terrorism and other anti-state phenomena. A state without a strong intelligence service is doomed to certain death. ”