REVIEW OF SOVIET INTERNAL AFFAIRS (RP M 78-10408CX)

Created: 10/1/1978

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW AS SANITIZED

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entrol Intelligence Agency Foreign Assessment Center

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' RBVIEfffOP SOVIBT IlNTBRNAL AFFAIRS

Domestic Politics.'

Is Brezhnev Being Propped Up?

Brorhnev hasoint of having frequent contact with foreign visitors ovor thejlast four months. As has been his practice for tho lasflseveral years, ho met all East European party leaders ln:tho Crimea during his July August vacation. Since his return to Moscow, ho hai received American visitors on. three occasions as well as Indian, Syrian, Italian, and Algerian delegations. Not to let his imagoomestic loader decline, however, ho alsoighly publicized, and certainly trip to5 September). anner reminiscent of his Par Eastern tour last April, howith local officials along the way and issued instructions to them.

Tho scheduling of those activities, however,that his itinerary was designed to haveimpactinimum expenditure of energy. with foreigners were carefully spaced anddemanding.his session with tht

Indian Foroign Minister as "pro forma rather thanond noted that Brezhnev limited his comments mostly

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eview ie based on analyaie and rosearah work oorrpleted by CIA's national Foreign Aeeessment Center through November lM P. Comments on the format and vieware solicitedmau be addressed to

Office of Reeional and Political Analyeie,

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to readingrepared text.

3 Moreover,increasingly dependent on his associates He relies extensively on Gromyko andaide Aleksandrov in contacts with visitingand now seems to require the presence of aon his journeys, to the.provinces. Defense Min-Ustinov traveled with him on his visits ta the East and Minsk earlier this year, and Politburomember Chernenko went with hin recently to Baku and

f his T. meetings in the Crimea this .summer.

It is possible' to conclude that Brezhnev lacks the stamina to shoulder the burdens of office alone. He now limits his active attention in foreign policy primarily to relations with theiUS and Western Europe and, on the domestic side, to agriculture. This year he has delegated even more responsibility to his heir apparent, Kirilenko. And he surrounds himself with close associates on most public occasions if ji][L

These tendencies, of course, have been evidont for at least four years, even as his political stature has risen. Nevertheless, such developments appear to have led graduallyecline in his effective political power. Thisonscious abdicationsome responsibilities;rather than an encroachment on his duties by his colleagues. This trend, moreover, is likely, to continue. Although his physical condition has boon relatively constant since his recoveryerious bout with the flu last winter, Brezhnev's physical and mental faculties will gradually grow

uch a

conclusion seems premature ana may reflect European Communist sensitivities more than reality. Brezhnev, still appears, to be in command in those areas that Tftoroeneral consensus within theS ip ontoALT agreement with the US, despite some tenuous evidence of reservations C

JBrezhnev has the vital support of his principal associates on the Defense Council-Kosygin, Ustinov, Andropov, and Grorayko--in this effort. And agriculture,rezhnev priority area, received authorization at the July Central Committee plenum to maintaints Current high snare of investment ;funds in the nexttS-year plan. Brezhnev's evident concern for agriculture was also indicated by hisentral Committee conference on agriculturo inow infrequent example of his direct public involvement in domestic economic natters.

Room at the Top ;

The unexpected death of Politburo and Secretariat member Fcdor Kulakov last July presented the Sovietwith an obvious opportunity to clarify its long-term succession arrangements and give some hint at least about the direction the party intends to take in. Such sweeping decisions, however, are uncharacteristic of this

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regime.

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At the same time, Kulakov's role in theagricultural overseer and as the link between theyounger generations in thetooto allow his responsibilities to go unattended

TherS aro severa* straws in the wind that provide an inkling of what might; be in store. Two of tho Politburo's regionally based officials appear to bo lobbying openly forecretariat job, even though they arenown for thoir expertise in industrial management. party boss Romanov hasoint of stressing his interest in agriculture.

Mikhail Soloraehtsev, chairman of tho RSFSR Council of Ministers and formerly tho Cer.tral Committee secretary responsible for heavy industry, has alsoisible interest in agriculture in the last two months. In mid-September.heeek's swing through Western Siberia, primarily discussing agricultural questionsC

JAnd inbolomentsev was tho highest ranking leaderat the Agricultural Workers DayMoscow,unction that previously had Most recently, at the end of October hea conference discussing the prospects for the

At the same time two other regional leaders, Shcher-bitskiy in the Ukraine and Mashorov in Belorussia, appear to be strengthening the positions of their proteges asin the two republics in order to free themselves for appointment to higher posts in Moscow. The transfer of one of these four prominent regional officialsecretariat post in Moscow would propel him into the midst of succession politicking and gr atly enhance the probability of hisbecoming General Secretary of the party.

The regime could choose, on the other hand, to avoid the succession issue byelatively junior figure as party secretary without simultaneously makingolitburo member. Indeed, if recent practice in" making secretarial appointments is any guide, this approach is precisely what we should expect. Three junior officials hove boen singled out in the last two months in ways that moAQ them prime candidates if tho party leadership opts for such an undromatic choice. The chief of the CentrolAgricultural1 Department,Karlov, and the doputy chairman of the Council of Ministers, Z. N. Nuriyev, have both written feature articles about agriculture in I'ravda. As the highest ranking party and governmentofheir candidacies presumably will benefit from the;record harvest.

I. A.he party first secretary in Rostov, has also received significant attention recently;

o raucn contact withis rare for any regional official, and itthat Bondaronko has become the favoredKulakov.

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The party's senior leadeic willriticalthe next Central Committee plenum: to lay thetheir own departure from the political scene or toagain any step that might herald such an event. of Brezhnev's health, it mayhoice they canavoid. of

Regional and Political Analysis.)

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Economic Affairs

Economic Performance

Three-quarters 'of tho wayhe Soviet economy is headedhird consecutive yoar of slowing growth with no solutions in sight. Soviet industrial growth8 could fall tas .lowcrccnt--the smallest annual increase inears.! Third-quarter statistics show most branches of industry running behind lastonths' pace. Primary energy! production is not likely to increase by moreercent this year.' Production of coal, timber-generators, froight cars, bucter, and canned food products has declined. 'Growth in the chemical industry has fallenercent tor the first; time. Machinery growth is down from last yoar's pace and is not expected to recovor by year-end.

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Capital formation continues to lag. Only half ofonstructiin projects scheduled to come on stream during the first halfactuallyidid so;ercent of thecarried over7 are;still incomplete. Mr.jorin not capital! formation are occurring when investment programs are badly noeded to counter declining labor force.

growth, to renovato obsolete plant and equipment, and toff the impending energy crisis.

The decree issued last summer by the Council of Ministers and CPSU Central Committee to promote development of the machinery industrys showing no signs of success. The decree provides for renewal of the machinery industry so that it can produce the means to modernize and automate the rest of the economy. These ambitious goals for quantity and quality of new machinery will not be achieved easily or soon. The machinery industry needs too much new capacity which is realizod only very slowly. The decree also set overly ambitious targets for ministries supplying inputs to tho machinery sector.

The Soviet consumer continues to seelow rise in his living standards. Meat shortages still persist, although this year's good grain harvest should bolster meat production next year. Getting enough meat, however, will romain the chief worry of most households through the winter.

Grain Prospects

With the harvest overercentrospects-remain goodoviet grain cropillion tons or more. Unofficial comments by Soviet officials put the grain harvest in the rangeillion tons. Other crops andproducts, however, have fared less'well. Nc official announcement has been made yet.

We expect Moscow toillion tons of grain In previous' years substantial foreign grainhases were completedctober. The.apparent delay this year may be due to projectionsorldwide bumper grain crop, relatively low grain prices,ossible tactical move to improve the .Soviet bargaining position with the US. Moscow's current short-term.balance-of-payments situation can easily6 billion price of projected grain imports. I fv'

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