Created: 4/1/1972

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Intelligence Report

Copy No.

The Politburo and Soviet Decision-Making


approved ror release datci3



This study,) Ion theand modus operandi, seeks to dispelthe aura of mystery which hasccisicn-ru^ing

J study

examinesrocesses o: ^nefunction of its internal parts, the cycle of its operations, and the support of its auxiliary agencies.

The picture which emerges is of decision-makers who are neither infallible giants nor glorified clerks, but hard-driving, able politicians whose ambitions and diverse responsibilities tend to create cross purposes: in short, human actorsigh-tensioned, but strong and flexible, political system. The study also concludes that General Secretary Brezhnev, as the focal point of the decision-making machinery, wields sufficient authority to play the central role in deciding andimportant Politburo business, but not to override his fellow oligarchs on policy issues; that the Politburo's structure and procedures actually encourage its members to lobby on behalf of their own institutional vested interests and private ambitions; and that even though there continues totrong tendency to refer even secondary matters to the Politburo for resolution,from subordinate agencies are nowrowing role in support of Politburo decision-making, especially in the spheres of military policy and defense production.

This study has met general agreement among Soviet specialists within the Central Intelligence Agency* Comments on the study are welcome and should be addressed to its author

Chief, DD/IStaff








General Secretary's

Embarrassing Need for a

The Right to

The General Department: Secret

Politburo Secretariat

Division of

Sources of Politburo

Conflicts of Interest

Spokesmen for Domestic

3. Foreign Policy Responsibilities. . .



C. The Plow of Memoranda and Proposals

Within the

A Sampling of Politburo Memoranda. .

Brezhnev's Powers to Authorize and


Kosygin's Independence . . .


The Defense Council.


Commission on .4

Agricultural Commission. . .

The Military-industrial Commission .

The Central Committee Apparatus. .





The Soviet decision-making process reflects both significant continuity and change in the system and style of rule created byalf-century ago. Supreme decisions over Party/ government, and society still reside in the Communist Party (CPSU)and,this supposed leading element of the proletariat, in that small elite known as the Politburo of the Party's Central Committee.

At the same time, policy decision-making is now much more complex and, in certain important details, much more diffuse. Moreover, the salient feature of Politburo evolution since Stalin hasrend, albeit with zigs and zags, toward an increasingly stable political balance. During the upheavals of Stalin's era the Politburo was in the main an enforcer of the dictator's will, ratherenuine policy-making body. After Stalin's death, the members of this elite body began to make significant contributions to decisions, but after Khrushchev's consolidation of power, and especially during his last few years in office,stability and orderly processes suffered from his heavy-handed dominance. By contrast, the present regime has sought to maintain the dominance of the Politburo oligarchsollective, with the result that power has become somewhat more deeply and evenly balanced within the leadership.

Even so, and despite outward obeisance toleadership. General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev actually presides over the Politburo's operation and

directs the activities of its members. Availableclearly indicates that the Party boss has the right, as de facto chairman, to decide when the Politburo shall meet, which if any outsiders shall attend its sessions, and what questions shall be discussed. Through the Central Committee's General Department, he also circulates the proposals and draft decisions which he and hishave initiated, and at the Politburo sessions which review and approve them he sums up discussion, expresses the consensus, and rules on policy issues.

While the General Secretary provides focus and direction to the Politburo's decision-making operations, the allocation of responsibilities to other Politburo members often resultsituation where they serve, in effect, as representatives of the various vestedin Soviet society. One vivid example is First Deputy Premier Dmitriy Polyanskiy, who supervises Soviet agriculture for the Politburo and who consistently has fought for the interests of the agricultural bureaucracy in his political activity; another, trade union boss Aleksandr Shelepin, has fairly consistently championed the cause of the Soviet consumer. But, compared with somewhat similar practice in the bureaucracies of other great powers, the opposing interests of institutional pluralism are markedly sharpened, in the Poliburo case, by intense and continuing personal rivalry. We know that in some instancesShelepin and othersthis often results in the pushing of vested institutional interests as alternatives to policies which Brezhnev has endorsed since ousting Khrushchev.

The actual process of decision-making in thesuggests systematic and rather efficient procedures. The central event in this process is the weekly Politburo session* Evidence* indicates that in simplifiedypical week might begin with Brezhnev's receiving and

-Tor Miififf^f

reviewing various memoranda and proposals on Monday for possible inclusion in that week's agenda; on Tuesday Brezhnev and the rest of the central Party Secretariat would met to agree on the ager.daj on Wednesday Premier Aleksey Kosygin would convene the Presidium of the Council of Ministers, and this government body would discuss and prepare possible contributions to theagenda items, coordinating within the Council and with the Party Secretariat; finally, after last-minute preparation of their positions, tho Politburo leaders would meet on Thursdayr at some other time at Brezhnev's discretion, to hear presentations and adopt decisions on the agenda topics. From Friday to Sunday the individual leaders would go aboutthose decisions and drawing up proposals for the next

Politburo session.

Adherence to certain customs and rules of order at Politburo sessions evidently prevents debate from developingree-for-all. In contrast to the practice in Khrushchev's time, when tho First Secretary apparently tried to reduce his colleagues' constraints on him by overloading the Politburo meetingsultitude of trivial items, the custom in recent years has been to considerew items at each session. Accordingly,ember expresses viewpoints which raise new aspectsroblem, he is generally asked to submit them in writing for detailed considerationater session. Brezhnev has privately claimed that most Politburo members listen to the presentation of most agenda items without speaking, and this may be true, although there is evidence that senior Politburo members, at least, feel little constraint in raising objections to important presentations or rulings with which they disagree. ignificant degree of initiative appears to rest with Brezhnev in presenting an issue anda consensus, and we know that colloagues occasionally pass him private notes during Politburo meetings to try


approved fop release

to influence his rulings. Most of the time, those rulings apparently are accepted; occasionally there are significant disagreements, and votes are then taken. The net effect of these procedures appears to be that enough authority is concentrated in the presiding officer's hands to move most Politburo business fairly expeditiously, though not enough to allow Brezhnev to override the wishesolitburo majority on an important matter.

While Politburo sessions probably are reserved for'the most important issues of broad policy, much of the time of the policy-makers between sessions is devoted to coordination of secondary or lesser questions which demand resolution. The tendency in the Soviet decision-making system to refer many matters to the top which might logically be decidedower level places severe demands, in fact, on the Politburo leaders' time. This tradition of coordination of secondary issues at the highest level can beeakness of the system. Nevertheless, definite procedures for expediting the process have been developed. The responsibility for coordinating the opinions of Politburo members on the larger issues lies with the member of the Party Secretariat who supervises the policy area involved in the decision. Together with the appropriate Central Committee department, the Party secretary reaches agreement with the Politburo member or members who are directly responsible for the field in question, and when substantive disagreements have been reconciled he forwards the coordinated version to the General secretary, whose signature validates the Delays in this process sometimes occurolitburo member decides to withhold his assent on an issue; Premier Kosygin, in particular, has occasionally insisted on his prerogative to delay coordination pending extended considerationroposal. Althoughractical political standpoint Brezhnev may not deliberately override the opinion of an important Politburo grouping on an issue, as Party boss he has the authority andto resolve the majority of contentious issues.


To facilitate their task of policy- andthe Politburo members explore specific tasks and problem areas in committee, forming various councils and commissions on permanent or ad hoc bases. The secret Soviet Defense Council is by far the most important of the permanent Politburo subcommittees: it includes three Politburo members, Brezhnev (as council chairman),Nikolay Podgornyy, and Premier Xosygin* other members include Politburo alternate Dmitriy Ustinov (who oversees defense-industrial production and the space program from the Partyinister of Defense Ar.drey Grechko, and possibly chief of the General Staff Viktor Kulikov. The Defense Council prepares and forwards recommendations on the most important issues of military policy for approval by the Politburo. This councilexerts an especially strong influence in tha sphere of military technology, where many Politburo members probably are not well equipped to judge highly technical issues. It also seems to be involved in the appointment of high-level military officers, as was the case with the nomination of Kulikov to the top General Staff post last year. But however great its influence, the Dofonse Council is clearly subordinate to the Politburo on the most important policy questions.

Other Politburo subcommittees have includedon industry, agriculture, the national-economic plan, and domestic trade. Each coscnission, whether permanent or ad hoc, appears to function with fullauthority in its assigned area. olitburo member conducts the commission at his own convenience in matters of participation, agenda, and so on. First deputy premiers Kirill Mazurov and Dmitriy Polyanskiy have chaired commissions on industry and agriculture, respectively, while senior Party secretary Andrey Kirilenko has chaired commissions on the economic plan and on domestic trade, such commissions, in contrast to the Defense Council,


tha Defense Council.

the most important and direct supporting role in the Politburo decision-making system probably belongshe Central Committee apparatus. This executive staff of the Party Secretariat not only formulateson policy issues within the competence of its approximatelyepartments, but also coordinates and channels much of the input of other agencies such as the Foreign Ministry and the KGB. The apparatus does not always function smoothly, for we know thatcompete among themselves for Politburo attention or are caught up in the rivalries between Politburo leaders.

The Central Committee apparatus also servesleadersrimary source of the staff aides who assist each leader in formulating policy statements, memoranda, information briefs, and the like. In addition. Central Committee consultants provide specific expertise, and draft contributions on request for the use of the policy-makers. Several Central Committee departments also make use of consultants, many of whom hold full-time positions in academic research institutes. Such groups of consultants apparently serve, therefore,ink between the Politburo and outside institutions such as the KGB-and- the academic institutes.

The most influential of the policy-supporting research institutes of the Academy of Sciences are the Institute of World Economics and International Relations (WEIR) and the Institute for the USA. These and other

academic institutes offer classified position papers or research studies and oral briefings to individualmembers on specified topics of interest to the policy-makers, and apparently compete vigorously for the ear of Politburo leaders. WEIR reportedly has prepared studies on such subjects as the implications of entering into SALT, the Czechoslovak situation prior to the Warsaw Pact interventionnd the strategic threat from China; whereas the institute for the USA was asked to brief Premier Kosygin9 on conflict between "guns and butter factions" in the US, and on the assessment by US experts of the same conflict in the Soviet Union.

while there is no firm evidence by Which to measure the impact of institute findings on actualdecisions, it appears to be true that the academic institutes provide the decision-makers with policy alternatives based on differing methodologies and perspectives. Together with the input of other auxiliary agencies, their contributions to the Politburo'sof policies reflect the increasing participation of an ever broader base of experts in the decision-making process in the past decade. It seems likely that this trend will continue during the next decade as well.



In theory the CPSU Politburoollegial bodyhairman and without any organizational This is an obviously unworkable setup, and in practice this central Soviet decision-making body is organized into three basic parts: e facto chairman; its members;mall executive staff. Clearly, the effectiveness of the Politburoolicy-making body depends, in considerable part, on the inherent flexibility of this structure and its personalities.

A. The General Secretary's Role

1. The Embarrassing Needhairman

An agreement to maintain an oligarchic sharing of power hasact of political life in the Politburo since Khrushchev's overthrowo that the oligarchs have been continually embarrassed by the practical necessity to have someone take charge and steer the decision-making process, in order to get anything done. ompromise.

General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev has been allowed to run the Politburo's policy-making machinery but denied the corresponding titles.

It is, therefore, considered bad form in Soviet Party etiquette to identify the General Secretary as chairman of the Politburo. To do so could enhance his prestige and power at the expense of his nominal peers in the collective leadership. Sensitivity to such personal power ramifications probably also explains the infrequ-sncy of public references to the Politburo's being "headed by" Brezhnev. These very rare violations of the collectivity taboo generally have been committed by Brezhnev's known political clients, such as Kazakh Party boss Dinmukhamed Kunayev, whoolitburo member. Other Politburo members probably have resented suchas indirect Brezhnev attempts at self-aggrandizement. Registering the general sensitivity on thisarty historical journal in9 cited Lenin's Writing that "there is no such" personolitburo chairman.

Nevertheless, Brezhnev as General Secretary is de facto chairman of the Politburo. His decisive role in presiding over the policy-making body is indicatedartial listing of the General Secretary'sincluding his right:"

to convene and chair Politburo sessions,

to draw up the agenda of Politburo

to sum up and rule on issues under Politburo consideration,

to circulate, and by implication tovarious documents, proposals,hat are within Politburo purview, and

5) to decide the extent of participation at Politburo sessions, enlarging orthe discussion, even to the exclusion of Politburo alternates.*


Brezhnev himself gavel

tional details on hisrole duringtalks

in According to

Brezhnev, members must forward to him in writing three days in advance any problems they wish to have discussed, and Brezhnev selects topics from the written submissions; no subject may be raised in the meeting that has not beenin writing.

2. The Right to Deputize

any or tne tnree senior Central Committee secretariesthat is, Mikhail Suslov, Andrey Kirilenko, or Fedor

Kulakov, who are members of both the Politburo and the



Central Committee Secretariatcan be deputized to direct the Politburo's work during the General secretary'a ab-sence from

"Kirilenko convened the Politburo during the absence rrom Moscow of both Brezhnev and Suslov; in fact, about half of the Politburo members were on vacation at the time. It was apparently at this meeting that the Politburo either decided or finallythe transfer of RSFSR Premier Gennadiyolitburo member, to the much less important post ofof the USSR People's Control Committee. If the basic decision was actually made at this meeting, it raises the possibility that the Politburo can decide delicate matters, affecting even the power relationship within the Politburo itself, in the absence of the General Secretaryumber of its voting members. It seems more likely, however, that the vote of the other members was taken in absentia by long-distance telephone or that thebeen predetermined; Brezhnev himself might earlier have placed the question of Voronov's transfer on the agenda.

In addition, it appears that besides the senior Central Committee secretaries, two other senior Politburo membersthe Premier and the "President"may also have the right to conduct Politburo meetings when circura-

stances necessitate.

3. The General Department: Secret Politburo Secretariat

At any given time, whether it is Brezhnev himself or some deputizing colleague who is operating thedecision-making machinery, the man in charge relies on the Central Committee's General Department for executive support. Reporting formally to the General Secretary, the Department servesrivate secretariat to the Politburo in such matters as handling correspondence and other paper work. ind of clearinghouse for proposals and decisions, it receives, registers, coordinates, amends, publishes, releases for dissemination, and storesdocuments.*

Between Politburo meetings, it is thus the General Department that conducts informal telephone votes bymembers on innumerable secondary matters and shepherds


memoranda on subjects large and small from one Politburo member's office to another. At the same time, thishas charge of all the mechanics of preparing and holding Politburo meetings; its responsibilities include circulating the agenda of planned Politburoand alerting leaders to their required presence at these and other official functions.

Politburo leaders acKnowiedge

such requests trom General Department officials as dir-

ectives from the Party boss


the General Department

the policy-making assembly line.

B.The Division of Functions

1," The Sources of Politburo Conflicts of Interest

The realities of the Politburo power structurethat certain Politburo leaders who hold particularly important posts in the Party or state apparatus are "more equal" than others who are their nominal peers. Some positionsfor example, the posts of Party General Secretary, senior Party secretary for organizational matters, government Premier, and first deputy premierare so important that they virtuallylace among the voting members of the Politburo. Because they are vital to tho administration of the Party and the state, these positions and their incumbents represent ancore of the decision-making machinery. Persons who have gained these key posts, therefore,reater measure of influence and authority than their fellowmembers in loss important postB.

As these disparities in power would suggest,of the Brezhnev-Kosygin leadership toby no means signifies an absence ofand conflicts. An individual leadertake advantage of each opportunity that ariseshis bureaucratic power and sometimes will gohis way to defend his position againstthe sane time,|suggest the exist-

enceeneral commitment to keep bureaucratic conflictinimum, and of alarm when this understanding appears to be violated.

Premier AJekaey KOSYOIN.

Breznnev ana president poagornyy Lspxayec tneir pique over Kosygin's having traveled

Nikolay PODGORNYY. Soviet "Presidttnt" (titular chief of state).

thus d

to the Ukraine and having spoken at meetings of Party activists arJout Party rasKS.


The potential for bureaucratic conflict between Party and state officials exists, of course, at several levels within the Politburo. The fact that the Party official's job is to check on and correct the performance of the governmentmakesertain amount of recrimination and conflict along functional linesfor example, between Ukrainian Party boss Petr Shelest and Ukrainian Premier Vladimir Shcherbitskiy, who are both Politburo members. Frictions are also observed between Party and governmentin competing areas, such as between the Party secretary who


Ukrainian Premier Vladimir SHCHERBITSKIY,

Potr SHELEST Ukrainian Party Firm Secretary.

heavy-industrialand the first deputy premier who administers the agricultural sector.*

Similar conflicts can occur within the Party or state hierarchies, creating an alliance betweennumbers on some issues-Among the senior secretaries, for example, Kirilenko's responsibility for supervising heavy industry and construction brought him last year into conflict with Kulakov, who oversees agriculture from the Secretariat. j

| |was categorically opposed to diverting trucks from industrial sectors to assist in the harvest.

2. Politburo Spokesmen for Domestic Lobbies

Against this background of conflict inherentstructure of the Politburo, it is perhaps not ' ' ' ' shown certain groups

lobbying through "representatives" in the Politburo. Such "representation" on the partolitburo leader usually conforms to his assigned responsibilities; that is, he becomes biased from association with particular vested interests.

Polyanskiy and Agriculture

First Deputy Premier Polyanskiy, for example, is an active and ambitiousof the interests of tho agricultural bureaucracy.

Deputy Premier Droitriy POLYANSKIY.

is apparent that the opposition

Polyanskiy was fighting came from vested interests opposed to the ministerial agricultural bureaucracy. No doubt suchas gained Polyanskiy valuable support within the Central Committee from the so-called agricultural lobby.

Shelepin and Consumer Goods

By contrast, trade union boss Aleksandr Shelepin apparently has advocated the consumer's cause from time to time during his tenure as a olitburo member, without hope wnstiiim_

for support from any comparable separate bureaucratic group in the Central Committee.

Aleksandr SHELEPIN. Chairman of All-Union Central Council of Trade Union*.


Shelepin's advocacy of the consumer's cause appears to have brought him into conflict on occasion withd us tr ia1 1obby.

I Shelepin's speech was notable for its emphasis on tne mesne that heavy-industrialistsesponsibility to increase the production of consumer goodsa theme which Brezhnev picked up in0 in requestingfor his own program for agriculture.

it seems clear that Shelepin's "representation" of the consumer's interests in the Politburo







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differs in kind from Polyanskiy's patently bureaucratic lobbyinglearly marked and powerful elite interest group. Some ofositions can be traced to his functions and responsibilities, which have involved super vision or actual administration in the consumer sectorumber of years. It appears likely, in any case, that his main motive in adoptingosition was to appealroad audience not identified with any one wing of the bureaucracy, so as to undercut the clear stand which Brezhnev took from the start of his rule in defense of heavy-industrial and military interests.

3. Foreign-Policy Responsibilities

There are clearly many Politburo differences of opinion over foreign affairs, although it is characteristic of the present Politburo system that in the foreign-policy area, in contrast to the domestic-policy field, opposing Soviet vested interests find lessoehold for clear-cut "representation" by individual Politburo members. This appears to be so because the Politburo allocation of responsibilities in this area does not itselfcreate the kind of general, unceasingconflict and lobbying that has been observed throughout the Politburo on the domestic side. Thus, while all Politburo members have important full-time domestic assignments,ew have primaryin the foreign field. Generally speaking, therefore, for most Politburo members policy-making in foreign affairs appears to involve relatively moredecision-making in the forum of Politburoand less functional sparring in routinebetween meetings.

Certain features of tho assignment of Party and state functions may nevertheless give rise to divergencies in approaching foreign issues. Brezhnev, Kirilenko, and

Party Secretary Mikhail SUSLOV.

Suslov, for example, all have had responsibilities forliaison with foreignparties, but the particular attention which the first two leaders have given to the ruling parties has sometimes put them in opposition to their colleague, whose primary responsibility is to supervise relations with non-ruling parties. or instance, Suslov's concern for the adverse consequencesoviet invasion of Czechoslovakia would have on the international Communist movementhole wasactor that led him to oppose the invasion decision which Brezhnev and Kirilenko supported. For his part. Premier Kosygin's overall responsibility for administering the economy evidently has made him especially sensitive to the potential economic advantages of East-West detente for the Soviet Union, despite of certain of his colleagues

the occasional resistance

who have less direct concern for economic performance but greater responsibility for ideological purity and vigilance.

Given the press of business onmall body as the Politburo, it must bo presumed that on many issues, particularly with respect to foreign problems unfamiliar to them, its members accede to much of the policy advice and opinions of those among them who have experience with particular Communist parties or areas and countries of the world. Premier Kosygin, for example, has had especially close dealings with India, Pakistan, and other South Asian countries; Kirilenko haspecial concern for Chile and other Latin American countries; Polyanskiy has developed


special knowledge of certain African countries; and so forth. The total evidence nonetheless does ncftattern of clearly defined responsibilities forcountries throughout the Politburo! thereto be considerable interchange among1'the leaders in contacts with specific foreign countries.

During the past year. General Secretary Brezhnev has meanwhileore prominent role in theof state relations, which traditionally has been the concern of the Soviet "President" and Premier rather than of the Party boss. At the same time, the regime's "troika"

Politburo Members BREZHNEV. PODGORNYY, and KOSYGIN. with Party Secretary Boria Ponomarev, meet in Kremlin conference room with Egyptian delegation.

of Brezhnev, Podgomyy, and Kosygin seems to haveupgraded in the foreign field with respect toPolitburo members. Thus, according to theaccountrecent" change in thelabor among the three rulers

Brezhnev now

claims to nave primary responsibility tor foreign relations with Western Europe and the United States; Podgornyy is particularly concerned with Southeast Asia; and Kosygin with the Near East, Scanadanavia, and Canada* Although this alleged new arrangement gives Brezhnev greater prestige andeightened emphasis on diplomacy, it does not appear to reflect any basic changes in the process of decision-making.

provide insight into tne



scheduling of Politburo meetings/ policy coordination

between Politburo sessions, the way proposals and memoranda are originated and considered, and the range of domestic and foreign policy decisions which the Politburo covers. esult, it is possible to draw some conclusions on the sources of policy initiative and influence, and on Politburo effectiveness in operations.

A. The Cycle of Decision-Making Meetings

The regular scheduling of meetings and otherof the top Party and government agencies is geared, as much as practicable, to total support of weeklysessions. The schedule routinely calls for the Secretariat to meet every Tuesday, for the Council of Ministers (its Presidium, that is) to meet every Wednesday, and for the Politburo to meet every Thursday. (The average length of regular Thursday Politburo sessions is about four hours, but in some instances particularly during crisis periodsthe meetings last much longer.) The preparation of the agenda for Politburo sessions apparently also fits into this general pattern of scheduling. As

Politburo members reportedly

mentioned elsewhere _

must submit proposed items for the agenda to Brezhnev

days in advancewhich means, normally, on Mondays.

In simplified outline, then, the typical weekly cycle begins on Monday, with Brezhnev receiving andvarious memoranda and drafts for possiblein the agenda for the Politburo session. On Tuesday


omce of








COUNCU Of mimstem

and si aie committees

Brezhnev and the rest of the Party Secretariat discuss andolitburo agenda to be circulated to the Politburo leaders and other concerned officials through the General Department. By Wednesday the Presidium of the Council of Ministers is able to discuss those questions which are on the agenda for the scheduled Politburo session and to draw up contributions, coordinating within the Council of Ministers at lower levels and with the Secretariat, in addition, any subordinate commissions or councilsay on any agenda item might meet on Wednesday, perhaps prior to and in preparation for the Presidium meeting. Finally, on Thursday morning the Politburo leaders prepare to present their proposals and contributions at the actual Politburo session, which would begin. Prom Friday to Sunday the individual leaders apparently set wheels in motion on the adopted decisions, and plan further proposals for delivery to Brezhnev by Monday for the next week's session. Despite many exceptions and disruptions in this typical design (such as receptions, conferences, travel,ot to mention unexpected developments andattern reveals systematic and rather efficient decision-making procedures.

Of course, Brezhnev has the right to call theinto session at any time, on the shortest notice, should an occasion warrant this. The Politburo has met much more frequently thaneekrisis has developed, as was the case, for example, in the months before the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia in For these irregularly scheduled sessions, Brezhnev usually takes advantage of his pre-eminentin summoning the other leaders to the Centralbuilding, where his office is located, rather than convening the session in the Kremlin building where the regularly scheduled Thursday meetings are held. Inthe Politburo occasionally movesroup to the leadership rest area of zavidovo to conduct meetings in relative isolation. Such moves usually reflect discussions

on particularly sensitive or important subjects. For example, most Politburo leaders spent two days, presumably in meetings, in Zavidovo inong Politburo session onecember.

|the activityinvolved the upheaval in the Polish leadership, which cameead at precisely that time and culminated in Gierek's replacement of Gomulka as Party boss.

Attendance at Politburo meetings apparently is mandatory for members who have no other pressingthat would excuse them from attending.* Of course. General Department chief Konstantin Chernenko or one of his deputies would be present as Politburo secretary to record the proceedings. Politburo alternates and members of tha Party Secretariat apparently are invitedatter of course to attend regular sessionsj however, Brezhnev can exclude them in special cases, and in any case they have no binding vote on decisions. Othermay attend at the invitation of Brezhnev (or, ih his absence, on the request of the senior secretary in charge) in order to provide their expertise, suchwho normally are the elite of the most important Party and government agencies, probably are present only for the discussion of topics in their immediate area of competence.

The scope of topics which the Politburo considers in session can be gauged only roughly on the basis of limited evidence, but apparently itroad range ofrom crucial to fairly trivial. In this connection, Sovietbrynin remarked5 that under the Soviet system of decision-making theon the leadership was extreme because so manywere referred to the top; by way of example he said that he had once seen the agendaresidium (Politburo) meeting that contained approximatelytems. Dobrynin's remark would seem to apply primarily to the situation which had prevailed under Khrushchev, who had apparently sought to reduce his colleagues' ability to restrain him by overloading Politburo sessionsreat number of lesser questions.

In anysuggest that at least

sincearty Congress inhen the Party Presidium was renamed the Politburo, session agenda have been briefer and devoted to more significant problems

tating that merely listen at

Whatever the scope of the agenda at Politburothe reported statements of several SovietBrezhnev himself, suggest that mostnow fairly strictly ordered and conducted so as toor disruptions. Brezhnev, of course,leading role in Politburo sessions. Ambassadorinor example, that thepresides at Politburo meetings and has theof summarizing the views expressed. Thehe added, is toonsensus on thediscussion, and the General Secretary'sare accepted, although formal votes arein sessions when there arehimself elaborated on these

Ln Q7n. flfafinnost

routnuro members ao not speak but

Politburo sessions; further, that if in the course of theew problem should arise, then if at alldiscussion and decision are postponed to the next meeting, and the Politburo member who raised the problem is asked to present it in writing beforehand. This custom is apparently intended, again, to limit the number of agenda items considered at each Politburo meeting in order to ensure adequate preparation and consideration of each item.

Although|"* ' |examples tend to confirm the existenceertain discipline and order in Politburo sessions, apparently with the aim of expediting the presentation of proposals and adoption of consensusthese rules of procedure clearly are not intended to stifle debate in that forum. The more senior and powerful members, especially, probably feel little

constraint in speaXing out during sessions-

B. Coordination Outside Politburo Meetings

Politburo sessions may well be reserved for the most important issues of broad policy,argeof the time of Kremlin decision-makers is devoted to other questions which demand resolution between The main method used daily to register the opinions of Politburo members on urgent questions is the so-called "vote*" The normal practice calls for the Generalto send draft decisions, decrees, proposals, etc, by courier to the Politburo members and to request their "vote" on them. On simpler matters the department may telephone the Politburo member's office and inform the leader or his staff verbally of the issue to be voted on. In any case, the policy-maker is expected to expresseither "for" orhe issue, making comments toegative position or suggesting changes in the decision's text.

Kremlin usage, ordinating is not clear.

the line between voting and co-

1. The Range of Issues Coordinated

It is possible thatecision does notbroad policyvote" is takenPolitburo members in line with theirof responsibility. An example in support ofhypothesis would be the1 decision onmilitary aid to Somalia,eneral Staffhad been voted on bythe

three Politburo members who are Defense Council members: Brezhnev, Podgornyy, and Kosygin.*

On the other hand,ull vote has been

taken on seemingly trivial questions.

Issues which we know have been raised for resolution outside Politburo meetings include such diverse topics as Brezhnev's report to the9 International Communist Conference, instructions to Soviet ambassadors and delegatesroposed stop by Kosygin in Kabul on returning fromroposal on "Arabhe composition of various Soviet delegations to foreign conferences and summit meetings, the protocol arrangements for meeting East German leaderroposed Mazurov receptionAR foreign trade official, the official recall of Podgornyyupreme Soviet delegate from his elected constituency after his appointment as President,of obituaries on high Soviet officials, the erectiononument for deceased Romanian leader Georgiu-Dej, the awarding of Orders of Lenin to Soviet cities and oblasts, and aspects of economic administrationdecisions on milk, timber, livestock breeding, and harvesting.'

In almost every one of these instances themember or members voted favorably I "would suggest that the majority or sucndecisions, because they usually are ofpass through the coordination process withof trouble. Nevertheless, the apparent feltsecure Politburo approval for many matters whichbe decidedower level can beweakness in the Soviet decision-making system,places severe demands on the policy-makers'tradition apparently reflects not only ato delegate authority, but also mutualamong the Politburo oligarchs, which impel themagainst possible future recriminations fromby securing the widest possible assumptionfor decisions large and small.

2* The Political Pressures to jfeach Agreement

leaaers not only usually try where possible to avoid friction, but may sometimes reverse themselves when it becomes clear that thay areinority on an issue. The avoidance of politicalis apparently an important consideration in coordina tion.

In fact, on less than vital issues many Politburo members often seem primarily concerned to vote whichever way the majority of their colleagues are voting, and not

routine matters.

* - -


2. Sources of Coordination Problems

On the other hand, the evidence also has revealed occasional difficulties in the coordination processesult of policy frictions or collisions or vested*

VORONOV, Chairman of People'* Control Committee.

rhe inference

is that the leaders who have tneir political base in various geographical areas often cause some delay in coordinating important proposals and other documentsthat base, at least until they have given close

attention to the matter.

4. Cases of Outriqht Obstruction

Materials containof more serious resistance or outright opposition of Politburo members to certain proposals which have been put

forvard for coordination.

C. The Flow of Memoranda and Proposals Within the Politburo

The total evidenee points

tlow of information and proposals within and around the Politburo. It indicates that virtually any member of the Politburo or Secretariat canolicy proposal. However, it alsoattern ofthat centers on Brezhnevnot surprisingly, in view of his position as General Secretary and de facto chairman of the Politburo.

]Brezhnev usuallyopyPolitburo

memoranda, reports,hatever the restrictions on distribution. Moreover, they indicate that standing procedures call for Brezhnev to release documentsthey are voted on by Politburo leaders. Further, they revealocument which has been circulated and coordinated among Politburo members goes back to Brezhnev, who signs and thereby validates the decision.

1, ampling of Politburo Memoranda

several examples show top isbq8fb initiating memoranda addressed toPolitburo or, what is essentially the same thing, to the Central Committee,

economic matterstructions to Politburo members

in nis new positionhief revealedemorandum, which was written by his deputy Sergey Ban nikov, had been read at the Politburo and had received high

the Bannikov memorandum was discussedeek after the Arab-Israeli conflict endedeek before Brezhnev reported on the situationentral Committee plenumstrongly sug gest that the subject here was

Soviet involvement in the Middle East, conceivablyon intelligence gaps or failures.

in none of these examples does the memorandum appear toajor program. Rather, they suggest the advancement of important but somewhat narrow parts of policy programs.

By contrast,rezhnev memorandum of0 "On the Situation in Agriculture" set forth for Politburoajor investment program which apparently upset previously approved guidelines forational-economic plan. I

It might be speculated, moreover, that Brezhnev made an attempt to arrange matters inay that at least his agricultural critic Voronov would not have time

to review the memorandum properly.

2. Brezhnev's Powers to Authorize and Validate Proposals

|Brezhnev's permission usually is sought or required toeader's proposal for Politburo coordination.


3, Premierndependence

extensive Brezhnev powers regarding there is some evidence that Premier Kosygin's authority givesertain measure offrom the General Secretary, beyond the acknowledged competence that all Politburo leaders haveesponsibility, and that this leads to oc-

casionally crossed wires.

a more serious conflict apparently occurred

when Brezhnev complained to Foreign Minister Gromykoailure to follow his suggestion inocument

Kosygin had allowed the Britishto release the first version of the communique without strikinghrase objectionable to Brezhnev, although the phrase was being removed from the version

to be published in the Soviet press,


A number of high-level institutions, both within and just below the Politburo, are directly involved in the decision-making process. At the Politburo level, various permanent and ad hoc bodies operate under theolitburo member in fulfilling policy tasks on behalf of the policy-makers. The Defense Council, whichey role in formulating decisions in the military sphere, is the most important of these Politburond serves as the main channel through which Defense Ministry views reach the Politburo. Below the Politburo and subordinate to either the Partyor the government Council of Ministers, several Party and government agencies offer policy supportirect and regular basis. The most important of these Politburo auxiliary agencies are the secret governmental Military-Industrial Commission and the Party Central Committee apparatus, while the latter is supported in turn by the intelligence and policy input of the Foreign Ministry, the KGB, and various academic research institutes. The efficiency of Politburo operations and policies depends very largely on the kind and amount of support which these institutions provide.

A. Politburo Subcommittees

It is clear

that individual members

no mucn oi tne pontouro's preliminary work themselves, relying primarily on their own personal staffs. however, specific tasks or problem areas aremore formally in committee, usually in ad hocwhich are formed for this purpose. ssignmenolitburo member to direct such subcommittees usually is due to his having regular bureaucratic responsibilities

in the given area. In addition, there are certain permanent bodies which represent exceptions to this somewhat haphazard staffing procedure, and which function as de factosubcommittees whatever their formal position in the regime's setup. In addition to the Defense Council, theseommission on Industry, ommission

on Agriculture,ew others

1, The Defense Council

The secret Defense Council (Sovet oborony) evidently existstate entity linking the Party and government hierarchies. The limits of its independent powers in the sphere of defense are not fully clear, but it appears to be ultimately subordinate to the entire Politburo on the most important military policy issues. Its top-heavy membership, including the leadership troika of Brezhnev, Kosygin, and Podgornyy, reinforces its de facto statusolitburo subcommittee.

Evidence |

"]indicates overwhelmingly

rox> uncil

that Brezhnev chairs the council, other members of the Defensebesides the troika, arealternate Dmitriy Ustinov, Minister of Defense Andrey Grechko and possibly Chief of the General Staff Viktor Kulikov. Ustinov's responsibility in the Party Secretariat for overseeing the armaments industry and space program makes him, in effect, Brezhnev's deputy for defense

industry. The fact that Ustinov isolitburo alternate may, however, reduce his role in Defensedeliberations to an advisory capacity. The same holds true, of course, for the two military representatives,

who have no Politburo status at all. Thus, althoughall Defense Council members may participate on an equal basis in their deliberations and resolutions, in practice the greater political authority of the three Politburo members probably makes their views decisive, particularly in the case of Brezhnev as chairman. In addition to these contributing members, the chief of the Chief Operations Directorate of the General Staff appears to functionecretary of the Defense Council, handling procedural matters such as arranging for the convening of the Council, keeping minutes of its sessions,ut probably notay in its deliberations.

Other important government officials take part from time to time in the work of the Defense Council,special expertise on particular issues whenon an ad hoc basis. Those who have been reported or observedefense Council supportive role, possibly as associate members of the council, include the Warsaw Pact commander, the Commander-in-Chief of the strategic Rocket Forces, the KGB Chairman (who7 has been Yuriyolitburond, on defense-industrial questions, the chairmen of the State Planning Committee (Gosplan) and theoth of whom are USSR deputy premiers but have no Politburo status. Any of these officials, of course, can draw on the assistance of specialists within their own bureaucracies in providing information to the Defense Council. The presence of non-members at Defense Council sessions is restricted to those items of the agenda which fall within their area of expertise, in keeping with the tight rein of security and compartmentation in this area.

The Defense Council does not appear to have its own staff as such, relying instead on expert inputs

r 'Hit ii ii l[

from various government agencies and groups as required.


General Staff of the Ministry of Defenseentral role in presenting position papers on militaryto the council. The General Staff receiveson questions of doctrine, strategy, and force requirements from military research groups or institutes within the Defense Ministry; the General staff reportedly has some responsibility in this area for presenting position papers before the council. In regard toand procurement of military hardware, the Defense Minister allegedly has authority to place requirements for weapons systems, new technology, and troops, giving his recommendations (apparently not binding) on quantities of troops and weapons needed and on performance char-

acteristics desired. it

is presumed that the recommendations on military hard-ware requirements are forwarded to what he labeled the council's "economic component" (an apparent reference to the Military-Industrial Commission I

for final coordination before formal council approval. The council reportedly consults also with seniorwithin the USSR Academy of Sciences in formulating recommendations for Politburo review.

Support for the Politburo

The Defense Council's activities.

suggest that it makes important

contributions to the formulation of Politburo positions

on military issues.

a tew hours ,he council met


seems ciear tnat in tnis case tne

Defense Council was called on to forward advice andto the Politburo in support of Soviet foreign policy objectives in Eastern Europe, and specifically in Czechoslovakia. The Defense Council, of course, would not have rewritten the broad outlines of the Politburo's foreign policy, which Brezhnev had spelledonth earlierlosed Central Committee plenum. those outlines probably were somewhat vagueariety of reasons, including differences of opinion within the Politburo at the time as to how hard to pressure the Czechoslovaks. Conceivably, therefore, the rampant growth of "democratization" in Prague and concomitantof the Soviet political position created the need, as Brezhnev saw it, for more specific guidelines, including military plans.


Independent Council- Decisions

In addition to such preparatory work for thethe Defensealso have the right to make certainindependently of the Politburo, especiallythat fall within well-defined Politburocouncil

defines the general principles of military doctrineand consideration of political, economic,factors, including strategy, weaponstechnology. The council's decisions onfinal and binding on all Party

and governmentcouncil

takes part in all major miiirary-ponncai decisions, particularly during crisis periods.

Other evidence, nevertheless, has indicated that on the most important policy questions, the Defense Councilole more clearly subordinate to Politburo



2. Politburo Commissions

Information on additional Politburo subcommittees permits certain tenuous conclusions on their scope and method of operation. None of them seems as important as the Defense Council, although each presumably functionsimilar mandate from the Politburo. The evidence indicates that the Politburo member who is taskedolicy problem conducts the commission at hisand apparently with full authorization in matters of participation, agenda, etc.

Commissions have been observed in several major policy areas, including industry, agriculture, the national-economic plan, and domestic trade. The industrial and


agricultural commissions are quite possibly permanent and have been chaired, respectively, by Mazurov and Polyanskiy, who are Premier Kosygin's first deputies.

The Commission on Industry

An industrial commission was formed under Kosygin's aegis

Defore the Premierajor program of

reform in economic planning and industrial management for approvalentral Committee plenum, [

appear to be associated

Many of Polyanskiyrs activiti cultural policy- and decision-making the years P'

ommission on agriculture.


B. Auxiliary Agencies

Several agencies are just one step below thecommissions in providing direct support to the On the government side, perhaps the mostin the decision-making process is theCommission (VPK) under the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers. Like the Ministry of Defense, the VPK operates essentially as an adjunct of the Defense Council but is not headedolitburo member. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Committee for State Security (KGB) are similarly important institutions which support the Politburo in policy-making, but they are excluded from detailed consideration here.* On the

1. The Military-Tndustrial Commission

Military-Industrial Commissionhe veryof whichtate secret,igh-level coordinating staff attached to the Presidium of the USSR Council ofhe VPK, with USSR Deputy Premier Leonid Smirnov as its chairman, is nominally subordinate to Premier Kosygin. However, in practice Smirnov reports directly to tlie Party Secretariat,to Politburo alternate Ustinov, and thus indirectly to General Secretary Brezhnev, on the most important matters of decision-making in the sphere of defense-related research,and production. In effect, it apparently functions moreefense Council adjunct thantaff of the Council ofexcept in routine matters.

'This Presidium ia tha higneet-level, regularlydeliberative body in the Soviet government. It

(footnote oontir.ued on



some light on its otherwise obscureand activities. They reveal thatermanent staff ofunder the leadership of Smirnov and hisGeorgiy Titov (firsteorgiyLeonid Gorshkov. These officials workdefense plant directors and engineers, as wellthe leadership of the eight ministries whichall defense-related production.

possibly the entire

staff of the VPK are specialists on detached duty from these ministries, with the exception of Smirnov, his deputies, and their immediate office help.

(footnote continued from

consiata of the Premier, hie two firet deputiea and Beverat deputiee, pluemail number of other menbere of the Council, such ae the Miniater of Finance. The Chairmen of the moat important Preeidium cotmiesione are deputy premiere and thue are involved in all queetione of government adninietration. In addition to the eecret VPK, the Preeidium oontaine at least tuo publioly identified Council of Minietera Commiaeiona chaired by deputy premiere: for Foreign

Economic Queatiorte (chairman Vladimirnd for CEMA Affaire (chairman Mikhail Leseohko).

Beyond its primary responsibility for the smooth functioning of the defense-production sector, the VPK evidentlyay in formulating decisions onin military and space programs, as well as on other technical matters which relate to defense policy.


The VPK may indeed have only limited authority to initiate and approve decisions itself; rather, the probably serves primarilyoordinator of decisions for the various government agencies which are involved in matters of defense. I

Requirements for Estimates

The VPK seems to levy requirements for intelligence estimates in apparent support of defense-production plans



The VPK Relationship With Grechko

One asp&ct of the VPK's authorityossible adjunct of the Soviet Defense Council is its apparent responsibility for implementing and controlling produc

the Ministry of Defense.

tion requirements


The VPK and Command and Control

The VPK, by virtue of its pre-eminent role inthe production of military technology, is associated with military command and control systems.

cmmand and control" would include* notably, theequipment* computers for data processing^ electronic display boards, etc.* that serveasis for military operational decisions.

2. The Central Conr.ittee _ffiPyatus

The Central committee apparatus is known to play an important role in channeling or coordinating inputs to Politburo policies from other support agencies. the reporting from informed sources on the specific


machinery for this is quite often confused or contradictory.


[reported in lyfoy tnat the tnree primary

contributors to most foreign policy debateswhichas "the scientists" {apparently meaning"thend the Ministry

of Foreign Affairsoften present their positionspolicy-makers dirctly and independently, without He complained that this led to poorand presentation at the highest levels. Inyears later explained (in the

context of preparation of Soviet positions on the Strategic Arms Limitations TalksSALT)umber of' different bureaucratic groups in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Academy of Sciences, and the Ministry of Defenseto SALT, andentral Committee staffthese groups. The final positions, he said, were then decided by the Politburo.*

Departmental Functions

xe conceivable, however, thatoordinating body in the Central Committee apparatus uao later established epeoi fioally for the SALT problem.

the functions of staff support and policy coordination are carried out either formally by ad hoc groups which the Politburo and Secretariat create, or informally as part of "ongoing coordinating activities" of the Centralheadquarters staff* He explicitly denied, however, that thereermanent coordinating staff that would enjoy the leverage and over-all prerogatives of the us National Security Council staff which Dr. Kissinger heads* Gromyko's reported statement fits closely the observed pattern of activity of the Politburo commissions asearlier, but it appears toimplification of the actual role of the central Party apparatus.

The coordination process in which Central Coffiaittee departments become involvedomplicated one. | |

I has stressed that it is standard prac :ice for all "interested" apparatchiks from the centraland sometimes from related organizations, to take part in the most important Politburo-levellluding to the existencefair number" of patterns


case in which information from various sources might pointeed tohange of attitudeolish political figure. The "interested" components would then be the Polish Sector of the Central Committee's "Foreign" (that is. Bloc) Department, the Foreign Ministry1 Fourth European Countries Division {for Poland andand possibly some department of the state security apparatus (KGB). According to this source, the Soviet position would be prepared first within one of these components, then gradually more senior officials vould be enlisted in drafting opinions, and the related

departments consulted as the heed arose. reliminary decision would then be made in the Polish Sector and submitted to the Bloc Department chief for examination* After review by the department chief and the appropriate junior Party secretary, the matter would reach thelevel; the responsible Politburo member, andthe entire Politburo, would convene all "interested" persons,inal decision would be made.

staff Aides and Consultants

*Ail such specialists are considered hereategory of Central Committee functionaries* irrespective of their formal position in the Party or state apparatus* because they have identical functions in assisting their bosses.

The Central Committee apparatus also servesource of specialists who work on the personal staff of individual Politburo leaders.* The staff aides carry the title of "Assistant" to the leader they serve. InPolitburo leaders can draw on the specializedof "Consultants" who are attached to various Central Committee departments. Both the assistants andonsiderable influence in formulating policy positions for their busy and often less well-versed bosses.



Central Committee consultant groups, which exist in several departments, may provide the mechanism by which ostensibly non-official "academicians" offer infgrata-

tion and advice to the Party policy-makers.


Conflict Among Brezhnev's Aides

An unconfirmed but plausible report on theof Brezhnev's Lenin Day speech0 suggested that staff aides and consultants, by dint of their intellect and specialized knowledge, occasionally can exert an important influence on their bosses and modify the outlines of Soviet policies.

approved fob release

kov 2cc3

few days before he delivered the speech onBrezhnev reportedlyriticalthe draftassistants.

Sources to

pparatchikswho ongly conservative

are Known

and in the event

Brezhnev associates of long standingare said to have accused the speech writers of revisionism,.apparently because of the draft's favorable attitude toward detente and its failure to justify Stalinist policies. In responserezhnev requesteply to the criticism, the drafters allegedlyith attacks on the Party's general line, the speech remained basically unchanged.

This reported incident of disarray among the General Secretary's closest advisors would seem tothat his foreign-policy assistants are both more

moderate in the Soviet context and more influ general than his domestic-affairs counselors.


3. Academic Institutes

The number of institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences which give policy support to the Politburo has steadily increased during theears. The most influential of these institutes today, at least in the sphere of foreign policy, are the Institute of World Economics and International Relationshich Nikblay Inozemtsev directs, and Yuriy Arbatov's Institute for the USA. Like several similar policy-supportof the Academy, these two appear to have drawn on Central Committee personnel for the core of their staff. In effect, they appear to be fulfilling functions which earlier had been located within the Central Committee but which were broken out in order to take advantage of the relative freedom that scholars have to mingle within their fields outside the Soviet Union and to gain access to influential political circles in foreign countries. The institutes areosition thus to organize and centralize the largely overt collection and

and to pass their analyses to the Politburo, either directly or through the central Party apparatus.

A large body of reporting indicates that institute officials regularly brief individual members of theusually Kosygin or Brezhnev are mentionedand offer position papers or research studies on specific topics of interest to the policy-makers. The total evidence

suggests thatew institute officials, probably at the director level, serve as permanent consultants to the Politburo, while the majority of them are summoned only occasionally, if at all. I

Institute studies focus, naturally enough, on major problemsirect bearing on Soviet policy. Several examples of the subjects of such studies are available

me -opi C5

include SALT, Czechoslovakia, and China. |

-|the SALT paper had outlined first theof the US objectives^

I |followed | iscussion of the probable effects of various Soviet alternatives, the first two being to enter and not to enter into the negotiations.

y Between

A number of reportsairly serious rivalry between WEIR and the Institute for the USA on strategic and foreign-policy issues, specifically in iregard to the US, and this is reflected in theirapproaches to analysis. Undoubtedly, theand personalities of their present directors have given the two institutes their unique stamp, WEIR, under the influence of the economist and former Pravda editor Inozemtsev, places its major emphasisheoretical approach and on model building. The Institute for the USA, on the other hand, working under the close supervision of polemicist Arbatov, apparently bases its analysesore empirical approach. Members of Arbatov's institute have made numerous disparaging remarks about Western "think-tanks" and their use of game theory, cybernetics, etc, in political-strategic analysis and haveragmatic preference for "logic,"

institute inave intended it to be an to them, with the focus on while expecting the Inozemtsev longer or broader perspective on policy issues.

Competition probably existsumber of other institutes that the Politburo draws on for expertise. For example, the Institute of Economics and Organization of Industrial Production, under the directorship of Abel Aganbegyan, would appear toompetitor of WEIR in some areas, 0nstitute recruited WElR's deputy director Stanislav Men'shikov toew section dealing with econometric models of capitalist


countries and focusing on the US. At the same time, however, WEIR reportedly had become very active in economic forecasting through computer modeling on the US economy;

A similar proliferation of effort seems toin the sphere of CEMA relations, which wereof the Institute of Economics of theSystemumber of years. FormerBloc Department official Oleg Bogomolovdirector of this institute sinceEMA

I reported the establishmentew International institute of Economic Problems of the World Socialist




The Soviet regime has evolved more or lesstowards participatory bureaucracy over the past two decades. True, today's Politburo may not be much different from its past and future counterparts in certain featuresfor example, regarding the existencee facto chairman in the person of the Party boss, the assignment of Politburo members to specific policy-making areas and to councils and ad hoc commissions, and the subordination of all Party and state agencies to Politburo rule. several distinctive aspects of the Politburo's modus operandi have undergone significant change over the years, and its effectiveness has been affectedesult. The future should bring further evolution.

in the Stalin era, which was marked by continual political upheaval and uncertainty, Politburo members almost completely lacked policy initiative, serving mainly as enforcers of the dictates of one person: Stalin. odern Soviet Party textbook, discussing the fact that Stalin convened the Central Committee only twice, expressed the problem of the Politburo's role at that time in exquisite understatement! "The Politburo also did not function normallyong time. Many important questions, including those which concerned the fate of several members of the Central Committee and even of the Politburo, were decided if not by one person, thenarrow circle of persons."

The position of the ruling elite improved somewhat under Khrushchev, so that its members began to make significant contributions to the formulation of policy. However, leadership suffered from the heavy-handedof the Party boss in all areas of activity, from the dilution of his colleagues' effectivenesslood of trivia, and from bitter political infighting which


accompanied Khrushchev's constant demoting and shifting of personnel in the Party leadership.

By contrast, the present Politburo has become stable in both its composition and itsesult of continuing evolution of the system. As we have seen, the Politburo in recent years has adhered to orderly decision-making processes, reserving sessions for serious consideration of the most important issues of broad policy. In addition to ensuring full coordination among Politburo members on issues between sessions, the regime increasingly has provided for the participation in decision-making of an ever widening circle of specialists from various support agencies. Perhaps just as importantly, no Politburo member has been removed from the ruling elite in the past six yearsa reflection of the growing difficulty in altering the balance of power in the leadership, should someone like Brezhnevind to try this.

eightened degree of orderliness andof the circle of advisors has been both facilitated and made necessary by the continued sharing of power. At the same time, much of this increase in the stability and effectiveness of the policy-making system can be attributed also to the regime's greater experience in coming to grips with complex problems. Finally, the present policy mechanism probably reflects, in part, the personalities of the top leaders themselves. Brezhnev and Kosygin, for example, seem temperamentally content with the relatively ordered bureaucratic procedures of "collective" leadership. Should the over-all power balance remain essentially unchanged and Brezhnev either continue in charge for another five-ten years or be succeeded by someoneimilar bentor example, by his heir-apparent Kirilenkothe outlook would be for relatively minor refinements in the present system, as well asrobable continuation of the present trend toward widening the circle of policy support. On

the other hand,udden shift in the power balance result in the adventess conformist and moreleader, such as Shelepin perhaps might be, some major changesas yet unpredictablecould occur in both the composition of the Politburo and its present fairly stable pattern of operations.

Original document.

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