Military Review

Russian tsars: view from the West. Part IV: Brezhnev


"However," continues the special project "Portraits of Russian Tsars in the West." This topic is interesting, first of all, because Russian leaders have always been the embodiment of their country for the western elite and the townsfolk. And in relation to the “king” figure, one can judge which image of Russia was in demand in the West at one time or another. It should be noted that most of the portraits in our gallery are holographic pictures. After all, when it was beneficial for Western politicians to conclude a tactical alliance with Moscow, the king was portrayed as a wise ruler capable of pragmatic deals, when the need for an alliance with the Russians fell away, the picture was shown from a different angle - traditional Russophobic stereotypes were reborn, and the king turned into a "cunning Byzantine" , an unpredictable despot or a mindless comedian.

If we talk about the current epoch, the image of Putin, like the image of his predecessors, in the West is constantly transforming depending on the foreign policy conjuncture. (However, in the Medvedev period, the existence of a tandem facilitated the task: the portrait of one leader was served in light, the second - in dark colors). In most cases, however, Western portrait painters operated with exactly “holographic pictures”, occasionally turning them with the right side: “wolf - hare”, “hare - wolf”, as in Soviet stickers based on “Well, wait a minute”.

"Holographic" somewhat different kind can be traced when the Russian tsar (and, therefore, our country) is viewed by researchers of a later era. It is easy to see that contemporaries evaluate people and events in the system of values ​​and concepts of “time of action”, and historians unobtrusively approach the past with the criteria of the future - when out of good motives, and when out of all the same applied ones. By the way, we should remember about the “holographic features” when, for internal political reasons, some Russian experts trump these or those quotes that reflect “objective Western assessments”.

Pragmatic peacemaker

Leonid Brezhnev is no exception, whose image in the West depended on how the strategy of the United States and its allies in the Cold War was changing. At first, after the impulsive Khrushchev, Brezhnev seemed to Western politicians to be a real gift of fate. He was called the brainchild of the apparatus, a predictable leader with whom one can easily deal with. At that moment, when he came to power, the ideas of “detente” gained popularity in the West. And it is not surprising that the Soviet leader was depicted in bright colors. “It should be understood,” noted The Washington Post, “that we are not a reformer, but a conservatively inclined manager of a great empire. But this does not mean that it can not be negotiated. " At another time, probably, the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the establishment of order in Poland would be served as a difficult step by the “Russian bear”, who since the times of Peter the Great dreamed of beating the “freedom-loving peoples” of Central Europe. However, in the era of “detente,” when the West was stuck in Vietnam, the Brezhnev doctrine was taken for granted. And Western politicians did not get tired of talking about the natural charm of the Russian “tsar”, turning a blind eye to his geopolitical claims.

According to German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who managed to build a special relationship with Brezhnev, “the leader of the Soviet Union gave the impression of a graceful, energetic and cheerful person. His facial expressions and gestures betrayed southerner. An impulsive interlocutor, he could be so moved that tears appeared in his eyes. ” Henry Kissinger called Brezhnev "a real Russian who poorly controlled his emotions and had a rude sense of humor, but at the negotiating table he always turned out to be a strong contender." “In the West, they recognized,” However, “personal translator of Brezhnev, Viktor Sukhodrev, said,” that even with Kissinger, who was considered one of the most cunning and dodgy politicians of his time, the Soviet Secretary General could negotiate on such technically difficult issues as strategic offensive ones weapons and anti-missile systems. "

After the Soviet Union signed a series of treaties on the reduction of missile weapons, Brezhnev in the West was called a “peacemaker,” a politician who is characterized by restraint and a penchant for compromise.

Aging comedian

In 1973, he first arrived in the United States. Unlike Khrushchev, who tried to conquer the American public with his impromptu, Brezhnev did not squander on trifles and immediately began to build personal trusting relationships with President Richard Nixon. According to the memoirs of contemporaries, during a conversation with him the Soviet Secretary General was extremely frank and even complained that colleagues from the Central Committee were undermining him.

From about this point in the West, the picture turns over: a “weighted and calm manager” turns into an aging comedian. One cannot say, of course, that Brezhnev did not give a reason for this, but the Western establishment began to flaunt its weaknesses with such delight and gloating, that many spoke of a well-thought-out strategy aimed at making the leader of the second superpower ridiculous and winning a victory in this way in ideological battle.

Nixon proclaimed his Soviet counterpart "childish man", and the American media did not hide the irony, telling how during a reception at the President’s home in California, Brezhnev donned a cowboy belt presented to him by actor Chuck O'Connor and showed techniques with pistols he saw when in their favorite westerns. Another anecdotal история, which they liked to tell in the West, happened after Nixon presented a “Cadillac” of manual assembly as a gift to a Soviet leader, who was considered an avid motorist. “Brezhnev got behind the wheel,” the American president recalled, “and invited me to take a ride with him, pushed the gas and sped off along a single-track road, which was often driven by security jeeps. I prayed to God not to meet them. He made a circle, went downhill at a breakneck speed, and famously turned around near the residence. ” “Brezhnev’s immediacy is discouraging,” noted the New York Times. “The same toy as the new car is for him, apparently, and the Soviet empire, which, however, does not have the maneuverability of the American car and can easily not fit into the turn.”

Many journalists did not ignore the story of the official who was part of the American delegation to the USSR. This official allegedly said goodbye to an expensive cigarette case, which Brezhnev took from him to look and without unnecessary words put into his pocket. True or fiction - it does not matter, such stories made it possible to create an anecdotal image of an old man who had survived from his mind at the head of the Soviet empire. President Jimmy Carter only reinforced this image in the public mind, telling how, left alone with the Soviet Secretary General, he was surprised to find that the interlocutor could not connect two words without the help of referents and ministers, and as a result the leaders of the two superpowers during half an hour silently silent.

In general, from a wise pragmatist who initiated detente, Brezhnev turned into a “living mummy”, a man with an exorbitant delusions of grandeur, but constantly being in a lethargic dream. And although in recent years the Soviet secretary-general didn’t really excel in mind, in the West they tried to extract maximum dividends: after all, the traditional personification of Soviet foreign policy, according to the figurative expression of biographer Brezhnev Edvin Bacon, allowed the USSR to be set up as a “marasmic empire.
Articles from this series:
Russian tsars: view from the West. Part of 1: Stalin
Russian tsars: view from the West. Part of 2: Khrushchev
Russian tsars: view from the West. Part of 3: Alexander I
Russian tsars: view from the West. Part IV: Brezhnev
Russian tsars: view from the West. Part V: Gorbachev and Yeltsin
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  1. Boris55
    Boris55 16 January 2014 09: 37
    Brezhnev is standing at the mausoleum in full dress. A bee arrives and begins to buzz over the hero’s stars ...
    - Bee, fly to Zhukov, he has the same ones.
    - Nah, you smell of honey, and he has gunpowder.
    1. amigo1969
      amigo1969 16 January 2014 10: 14
      You shouldn’t be so! A man went through the war, was wounded, had military awards. Who knows what weaknesses and deviations will be in our old age. Well, Brezhnev loved the awards! This is such an innocent weakness compared to EBN, Serdyukov and others ....... Brezhnev of the 60-70s really was a talented manager and had authority in the international arena, the authority of the USSR was at its peak. Yes, aging, he made many mistakes, but looking at the end of the 80s and nineties, somehow I do not want to blame him ....
      1. Alexander Petrovich
        Alexander Petrovich 16 January 2014 11: 49
        My opinion is that Brezhnev was poisoned by his own, and therefore became a senile. Only question: why?
      2. Boris55
        Boris55 16 January 2014 12: 21
        Quote: amigo1969
        but looking at the end of the 80's and the nineties, somehow I do not want to blame him ....

        Why compare him with a hunchback traitor? Is he better than Stalin?

        Do you know that through three generations of alcoholics, the degradation of the nation is irreversible?
      3. Orang
        Orang 16 January 2014 17: 56
        Quote: amigo1969
        You shouldn’t be so! Man went through the war

        One Small land is worth something so that all sorts of donkeys would not humor them in perestroika.
    2. user
      user 16 January 2014 10: 44
      You'd better ask when you got 3 stars and for what 4, and you will understand your humor about gunpowder differently. By the way, they began to call him "Marshal of Victory" in the last 15 years, and before that there was a meeting of the highest command personnel of the USSR in 46, where he was accused of protruding his merits and appropriating other people's victories in the Great Patriotic War.
    3. starshina78
      starshina78 16 January 2014 19: 36
      This anecdote is another proof that Brezhnev was loved by the people. More jokes than about Brezhnev are only about Vovochka and Chapaev and Stirlitz. In general, one can say about Brezhnev that he was one of the best leaders in the country. Those who lived with him will not let him lie. Yes, in the early eighties it got worse, but in theory Brezhnev then did not lead the country, but led the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, and Brezhnev lived out his days. It was under Brezhnev that Zhiguli began to be produced, the Navy and aviation rose, Buran and BAM were built, the people began to live better. And there was sausage and meat, bread and pasta, and this after the Khrushchev famine. When I was a kid (1962-63), I ran to take the queue for my mother to buy coupons for flour, pasta and cereals, and the queue at the bread shops was almost a kilometer away, and sometimes you take bread, and it is either corn or pea ... There was such a thing, but under Brezhnev everything worked out. For me personally, the Brezhnev times were the best in my life. Or maybe I was just young then, because with him passed my youth, youth, and I became a mature person, and this is nostalgia for those times?
      1. Lindon
        Lindon 17 January 2014 13: 05
        After Khrushchev - Brezhnev looks much better.
        He was a normal man - without idiotic hops like Khrushchev’s.
        He saved the country when Khrushchev took off.
        Sorry for the impetus for the development of the country did not give. There was a calm person - he did not strain himself and did not strain the country. Therefore, no one displaced him and kept him and did not let him go until his death.
        This is after Gorbachev and Yeltsin - the country will have to be lifted for a long time.
  2. Vasia kruger
    Vasia kruger 16 January 2014 10: 36
    Strange, I always thought that at the end Brezhnev wanted to leave the post of general secretary, but he was not let go ... he was very comfortable for everyone. Well, how a new one will start screwing everyone.
    1. predator.3
      predator.3 16 January 2014 13: 56
      Quote: Vasia Kruger
      Strange, I always thought that at the end Brezhnev wanted to leave the post of general secretary, but he was not let go ... he was very comfortable for everyone. Well, how a new one will start screwing everyone.

      Yes there were rumors about the receivers, they called the names of both Romanov and Mazurov as Grishin.
  3. user
    user 16 January 2014 10: 38
    This is all from the information war waged by the West with the Soviet Union and which the USSR underestimated and therefore lost outright. Although if you ask people who lived at that time, then most recall those days with nostalgia for stability, security, living standards about taking care of children, and the social elevator then worked fine. Although there is always someone who will say, but there were no sausages in stores.
  4. sdv68
    sdv68 16 January 2014 10: 59
    Under Brezhnev, scientists invented a time machine and asked him:
    - Where do you please, Leonid Ilyich?
    - In the bright future.
    After returning, he says: "It turns out that we live in a dark, totalitarian stagnant time, but when I got back together, they all rushed to my car from the bright future, they barely carried their feet."
  5. Volodya Sibiryak
    Volodya Sibiryak 16 January 2014 12: 24
    You can write a lot about Leonid Ilyich, I know for sure one thing: under him, veterans lived and did not exist.
    1. predator.3
      predator.3 16 January 2014 13: 58
      Quote: Volodya Sibiryak
      You can write a lot about Leonid Ilyich, I know for sure one thing: under him, veterans lived and did not exist.

      Yes, not only veterans, but the whole people!
  6. Tron
    Tron 16 January 2014 12: 26
    In the early 90s, he read the memoirs of a former KGB officer. At a reception in the Kremlin (it was on the board of EBN-a), a familiar CIA officer approached him and in a conversation asked why our country has such a negative attitude towards Brezhnev, when you should be grateful to him just for having the USSR under him achieved parity in nuclear weapons and was deservedly considered a superpower. And your officials and military are now trying for the fourth time to sell all your secrets, which is what the employees of his department have already gotten into it.
    So, even the enemies respected Brezhnev, but God himself told us to objectively treat him.
  7. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 16 January 2014 14: 23
  8. dmitrij.blyuz
    dmitrij.blyuz 16 January 2014 15: 21
    Guys.Leonid Ilyich (it is fashionable now to call him time-stagnant), was not just a smart politician. He foresaw the circumstances of the development of the World. He was not Stalin. But, delve into our history (refers to the youth of 1980, etc.) This person guaranteed confidence to us. So it was. Then humpbacked and others like them all were fucked. Personally for me L.I. Brezhnev-THANKS TO HIM.
    1. Boris55
      Boris55 16 January 2014 16: 42
      Quote: dmitrij.blyuz
      ... He is not Stalin ...

      That's for sure. Under Stalin, they did the five-year plan for three years, and under it they asked for plans every year to reduce them so that they would report to the next congress about allegedly fulfilling the tasks of the previous congress. Under him, it was not stagnation but the degradation of the country that ultimately led to the collapse of the USSR. There is his merit in this.
      1. dmitrij.blyuz
        dmitrij.blyuz 16 January 2014 16: 57
        I’m also from those times. But I don’t remember, more precisely, there were no requests to reduce the plan. We plowed in black. Instead of 1200 hectares, they asked permission to Raikom to plow 2300. Forbidden. That's it.
        1. The comment was deleted.
  9. Anatole Klim
    Anatole Klim 16 January 2014 16: 35
    I remember the fall of 1982, when I was studying at a military school and ran a day school and we ran into the barracks in alarm - we sat down in front of the TV and a message was sent about the death of L.I. Brezhnev. Of course, I must honestly say that no one panicked or hysterical, but I remember exactly how our old, as it seemed to me then, old colonel-teacher said: “Guys! You will still remember the good word of the deceased. Wise colonel, how he turned out to be right.
  10. dmitrij.blyuz
    dmitrij.blyuz 16 January 2014 17: 02
    So there was no panic. It was just sad. I was in the 8th grade then. The classroom said, as I remember now, the Leader died. You still remember him. The right turned out to be.
  11. Orang
    Orang 16 January 2014 18: 07
    Under Leonid Ilyich, the USSR (Russia) achieved power unprecedented in its history. Under him, the seeds of treason in the top of the country ripened.
  12. knn54
    knn54 16 January 2014 18: 10
    Communism passed, but we did not notice ...
    1. carbofo
      carbofo 17 January 2014 08: 43
      Who said what went through?
      We have half the country in the soul of the Communists, life has changed, yes, but not the soul.
  13. Sanyht
    Sanyht 17 January 2014 08: 42
    To Brezhnev in 1967 (he visited the Champs Elysees in Paris and saw the WITCHES of the Eternal Flame of France), the fifth column suggested: NAMED WORKERS, KIND THE ETERNAL MEMORY LIGHTS throughout the USSR ... knowing that this will undermine the GREAT COUNTRY ECONOMY! insanity was such that in addition to the central squares (in Zaporozhye, TWO BIG FIRE) were lit at some plants (Zaporizhstal, Dneprospets ..., Refractory, etc. even including the surrounding villages, where GAZ was transported to the Eternity in cylinders ... so what? Factories realized the cost and the bankruptcy of the idea, burned out, repaid! the country is EXPERIENCING SOAP BUBBLES, continuing to PORN IN MEMORY the irrevocable NATURAL RICHES WITHOUT SPENDING PEOPLE'S MONEY
    1. carbofo
      carbofo 17 January 2014 19: 54
      I’m interested in the fact that there is such a poor education on the outskirts that you cannot even cope with simple mathematics.
      Propane-butane cylinder weighing 50 kg.
      refueling costs 10 cylinders - 905 r for 1 pc.

      The gas flow rate is determined by what kind of flame is needed and the design of the burner itself. If we take, for example, powerful heating burners with a capacity of up to 4-5 kW, then they have a gas consumption of 750-900 grams per hour!
      that is, a two-day balloon (900g / h x 24 x30) it turns out that for a month you need only 648 kg., This is about 13 cylinders, in my opinion not everything is as expensive as you think, the janitor is more expensive - than the Eternal Flame.
      So do not repeat after fools, learn mathematics and you will see fewer questions as to where and how much it costs.