Andropov, Yurii

Andropov, Yurii [Андропов, Юрий; Andropov, Jurij], b 15 June 1914 in Nagutskaia, Stavropol gubernia, Russian Empire, d 9 February 1984 in Moscow, RSFSR. Soviet Communist Party and government leader; after 11 November 1982 fifth general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). By professional training a marine engineer, Andropov began working in the Party apparatus early in his career, first in the Komsomol (1936-44) and then in the CPSU. In 1940–7 he worked in Karelia as the protégé of the Finnish Communist O. Kuusinen and from 1947 served as the second secretary of the CC CP of the Karelo-Finnish ASSR. In 1951 he was transferred to Moscow to work in the CC CPSU apparatus. In 1954–7 he served as the USSR ambassador to Hungary and faithfully carried out the Kremlin’s policy of suppressing the 1956 Hungarian uprising and installing János Kadar’s puppet government. In 1957 Andropov returned to Moscow to head the department of relations with East European Communist parties of the Secretariat of the cc CPSU. In May 1967 he was appointed chief of the KGB, a post at which he served for 15 years. As KGB chief Andropov immediately became a candidate member of the Politburo of the CC CPSU. In April 1973 he was promoted to full member. In 1976 he was awarded the rank of army general.

Under Andropov the KGB strengthened its system of political repression and its foreign intelligence network, including its economic and technological intelligence gathering and disinformation operations. Within the USSR dissidents, particularly Ukrainian cultural figures and defenders of human rights, came under increasingly severe persecution. In 1972 the KGB conducted numerous arrests in Kyiv and Lviv. There are suspicions that Petro Shelest was removed from his post of first secretary of the Central Committee of the Comunist Party of Ukraine (CPU) and then from the Politburo of the CPSU because of KGB pressure. According to samvydav sources, the chief of the KGB in the Ukrainian SSR, Vitalii Fedorchuk, denounced Shelest to his superiors in Moscow for failing to suppress the dissident movement in Ukraine. In 1977–80 under Andropov’s leadership the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and similar groups in other Soviet republics were crushed.

With the aging of the Secretariat of the CPSU Politburo in Moscow and the disclosure of corruption in Leonid Brezhnev’s family, Andropov consolidated his position. After the death of Mikhail Suslov, he became chief for ideological affairs in May 1982. After Brezhnev’s death, on 12 November 1982 Andropov was elected the CPSU general secretary over Brezhnev’s protégé, Konstantin Chernenko. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR elected Andropov a member of its presidium in November 1982 and its chairman in 1983. As the new leader Andropov did not alter Brezhnev’s domestic and foreign policies, but economic and administrative reforms were introduced in the USSR. During the last six months of his life Andropov was gravely ill, and the USSR was ruled ‘collectively’ by other members of the Politburo.

Vasyl Markus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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