POLICIES AND PERSONALITIES IN THE SOVIET POLITBURO
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of Intelligence8
Policies and Personalities in the Soviet Politburo
For four years the Soviet collectivehas evaded or postponed most of the really tough policy decisions, partly by design and partly because of the indecisive nature of the collective "personality." The invasion of Czechoslovakia almost certainly will exacerbate long-accumulating personal antagonisns and unsolved problems andevere strain on the regime's internal stability. The strenuous effort to involve all Politburoin the decision to invade and in the subsequent "negotiations" with the Czechoslovak leadershipecognition of the potential dlvisiveness of tha issue and an attempt by the architects of invasion to create atnity of
Factors favoring change, in any case, were present prior to the invasion. ignificantof the Politburo members, including Brezhnev, have made their careers in the Ukraine and have
Sotu: This' memorandum vae produced oolely by CIA. Ttvae prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with tha Office oe Economic tteaearoh, tha Office of Strategic Reeearch, and the Office of National
maintained meaningful political tieB. Cutting across these regional connections, however, areof age differences and shared outlooks in the approach to key policy problems. In recentap has begun to open in the upper echelons of the hierarchy between theith their unfulfilled ambitions, and theho more and more have taken decisions on their own. Kosygin apart, most of the "seniors" have also presented an image of thoroughly conventional Soviet Communists, while the "juniors" have inenerally more pragxatic approach to problems confronting the USSR.
Despite these cross-currents, the collective has survived since Khrushchev's ouster without major changes in its composition or manner of operation. No single leader has had the combination of desire and political strength to dominate. Brezhnevhas been willing to work within the system of shared power, carefully treating his associates with tact. Kosygin and Suslov play indispensable roles but have remained aloof from party organizational work and thus represent no direct threat to Brezhnev' pre-eminent position. Podgorny is hampered from bidding for the top party post by his assignment to the largely ceremonial post of president and byhealth. one young leader who seemed to possess the qualifications for thehas been politically isolated since his apparent bid to topple the old guard In addition,and orthodoxy have been favored by the mix of vested interests represented on the Politburo.
There are, however, some small signs ofon personal relationships among their. the aftermath of the intervention. hift in political alignments has occurred cr is developing, the first major shakeup in thecould occur as domestic problems, andthe touchy issue of allocations, comeead.
It was inevitable that rumors concerning the impact of Czechoslovakia on the Soviet leadership would appear soon after the invasion, given the magnitude of the act and the widely held view that the unity of the leadership is not such as toit to withstand serious contention. Before long these rumors, together with various other portents, will become the stuff of Kremlinological conjecture that invariably flourishes when solid information is lacking, what emerges from this process will not be wholly reliable! neither should it be entirely discounted, if, as we believe, the tensions generated by the Czechoslovak issue are likely to linger and to exacerbate other conflicts that have accumulated during the four years ofleadership.
While there is now no firm basis forthe outcome of this political contest, when and in what form it will erupt, and who the winners and losers might be, there is little doubtontest is in progress. We think it possible, moreover, to identify, at leastough way, the framework of political relationships within which the contest will be conducted, the names of some of the chiefand the political instruments that will figure in the action. This is what will be attempted in the paragraphs which follow.
The Political Framework
1. man Soviet Politburo is composed of overlapping and sometimes shifting cliques based on regional associations, age, and shared outlooks in the approach to key policy problems. Since the replacement of Khrushchev, this group has given theenerally safe and thoroughly undynamic leadership. Before the invasion of Czechoslovakia, it had/ partly by design and partly because of the nature of the collectiveanaged to evade or postpone most important decisionsboth domestic and foreign policy. The reward
for this hasigh degree of internalwithin the collective; the cost has been an accumulation of personal antagonisms and unsolved problems, which the Czechoslovak issue seemsto exacerbate. Even though the fabric of unity may have sufficient strength to see thethrough the immediate aftermath ofit has probably been permanently weakened by that event. Factors favoring change were, in any event, already present.
One fairly central element for the past three years has been the "Ukrainianeaded by Brezhnev and including Podgorny, Kirilenko, Polyansky, and Sheiest. (See Appendix for list of Politburo members). Although several of these men are in fact Great Russian by birth, all made their earlier careers in the Ukraine and have maintained meaningful political ties both among themselves and with that republic's organization. imilar "geographictie may exist between Suslov, who under Stalin had at one point the duty ofthe incorporation of the Baltic countries into the USSR, and late-comer to the) Arvidolorless Latvian party functionary. Pelshe began his rise in the Latvian party during Suslov's pro-consulship of that area and is reported by Communist sources to owe his present high position to Suslov's patronage.
There are no visible alignments based on geographic ties in the careers of the othermembers of the Politburo. Koaygin is from Leningrad but has no visible power base there; Mazurovelorussian by birth and largely made his career in that republic. Sheleplnreat Russian who has made his way up the ladder through several central institutions rather than viaposts, and Voronovussian who has served and established influence primarily in the Russian Republic.
time has passed in thea gap has begun to open up in the upperof the hierarchy between the
nd the "juniors- in theirs who have been consulted less and less and onhave voiced resentment. The decline in the political fortunes of Shelepin, the most visible of theseas dramatized the gap. The potential divieiveness of this difference in age is heightened by the fact that many of thehave in common not only unfulfilledbut also an approach to the problemsthe USSR which tends to be more pragmatic than doctrinaire. Kosygin apart, most of the "seniors" now present an image of thoroughlySoviet Communists. Their view of the world and their politicalthe Stalinpreserved heavy traces of the "siege" mentality of those years. encirclement" and the contagion ofideas are for them real dangers, only slightly mitigated by the fact that the Soviet Union has greatly reduced its international isolation. Safety lies in defense of the established ways-primacy of tho party and strict protection of State doctrine. Rejuvenation of the domestic economy is secondary when the "siege" instinct takes hold, to the demands of heavy industry and defense. Preservation of the system and theof the ruling group are paramount needs, and unorthodoxy, which might be tolerable in less dangerous times, is taken to be heresy.
5. There is bound to be somein any such broad outline. There are naturally varying degrees of conformity to this patternthe senior group, and the attitudes ofon particular issues is certain to alter with time, place, and the nature of the issue. Brezhnev himself, during his years under Khrushchev, stood out as somethingoderate by contrast to the more hard-line Kozlov, now dead, and he still seems more comfortable politically when on the "middleven while his attitude is predominantly conservative. Podgorny has at times expressed support for economic decentralization, and Soviet intellectuals once considered him mildly sympathetic. owever, he has followed
Brezhnev's lead closely, and he -is consistently reported to haveery hard-line role in the Czechoslovak crisis. esser degree, the same thing is true of Kirilenko, who in5 shakedown period showed' an awareness of economic considerations which declined as Brezhnev'sbecame more conservative. Suslov, though ideologist-in-chief, has, on occasion, revealed himself to have somewhat more political flexibility than his reputation would suggest. Shelest, as regional party boss of the Ukraine, has presidedimited "ukrainization" of the economic and cultural life of the republic, but there is little evidence that he is sympathetic to other forma of change. Thus, the elder group,hole,trongly orthodox image.
/ 6. Kosygin and thePolyansky, Shelepin, andtoenerally more pragmatic approach, perhaps not entirely accidentally, since they hold or have held positions in the state apparatus responsible for the execution of policy. For them, probably the danger of contamination by the West is weighed against what can be achievedegree ofin terms of relaxed budgetaryand access to technological expertise. Domestically, party primacy is one thing, but economic efficiency and technological sophistication maylightly different thing. Although Polyansky and Shelepin are ardentinge of chauvinism andabout them, even they seem to believe that new methods of running the Soviet union aro nooded and that more weight must be given to the "experts" whose contribution lies in technical knowledge, not Marxist-Leninist fervor. Polyansky, despite his Ukrainian background, fits this technocratic pattern more than the old orthodoxy, as do Kazurov and Shelepin. Voronov, slightly older than the others, makes few speeches and rarely figures in any reports on the attitudes of the leaders. Nevertheless, there have been scattered hints that in the right political climate he would bo ready to joinearch for "new methods of11
Despite these cross-currents, thehas survived for four years without major changes in its composition or in the way in which it functions. This is due partly to political accident: no single leader has had the combination of desire and political strength necessary for domination. The younger members with ambition and vigor have, in turn, been kept in the background.
Brezhnev has managed toumber of his associates in key party and government posts at lower levels, but he has apparently beento work within the system of shared power and has been careful to treat his associates with tact and to heed the views of others. Kosygin hasompetent premier and is widely respected in both government and party circles for thisbut he does not seem to have either the background in party work or the desire to step into the top party position. Suslov, too, plays an indispensable role in his own way and hasinfluence, particularly on matters of Communist faith andut has seemed tolargely aloof from party organizational work. Podgorny may harbor ambitions, but he is hampered by his assignment to the largely ceremonial post of president and by his declining health. In fact, all four senior members of the leadership appear to have medical problems of varying
Among the younger members of thethe one man who seemed to have the necessary combination of opportunity, ambition, anddidid to topple the old guard His failure left him politically isolated, and several of his highly placed protege's have since been removed from their positions. Polyansky is ambitious but thus far has apparently remained loyal to Brezhnev. Mazurov has proved his abilities in both party and government, but with his exclusively Belorusslan roots, he has little independent political strength. Voronov, despite his long tenure in theelatively shadowy figure.
10. The current composition of the Politburo closely reflects the power relationships among the major interest groups in the country. The party apparatus, government bureaucracy, agricultural interests, and the military-defense industryall seem to have men on the Politburo whom they can count on to be attentive to their This factor has favored both continuity and orthodoxy, when imposedixture ofand pragmatic outlooks, it has meant alsopolitics. 5 economic reform, which attempted simultaneously to recentralize and to decentralize. decision-making in the economy,the interests of both the orthodox and the pragmatists, and the effect on the economy has been minimal. Until mid-August the leadership's handling of the Czechoslovak problem revealed the sameising scale punctuated by personal meetings which tended to defuse the threats..
12. The military's orientation is uncertain.
| Contenders in the
1 current ieaaersnip Arrangement must ensure at athe neutrality and preferably the support of both the armed forces and the KGB. The KGB chief, Yury Andropov,andidate member of the In terms of age and previous performance, he falls within th^ninr- (tronn.
13. The Central Committee itself,ull and candidate members represent the mostelements of Soviet society, embodies awill" of sorts. This body will have to ratify any important changes in the leadership. Khrushchev's antagonists failed to gain its approval when they tried to oust himut another group obtained it The present Central Committee, electedoes not belong to any one man but rather reflects in its membership the degree to which power has been shared, in varying degrees, among the various members of the collective leadership. Regional party officials make up approximatelyercent of its membership. Intellectuals of any sort, andthose with any degree of creativity or sympathy for liberal causes, are woefully underrepresented. The military-industrial complex has been allocated approximatelyercent of the seats; enterpriseeconomists, and government officials engaged in the nondefense sectorsonsiderably smaller number of seats. Kost of the national minorities are underrepresented; only the Ukraine, Bolorussia, and Kazakhstan enjoy what might be termed proportional representation. The ages and career interests of the members of the present Central Committee suggest that on the whole their views are close to those of the
"seniors" on the Politburo. They are probablyin matters of national security andto change, but they would be vulnerable to manipulation on allocations questions that directly affect their own vested interests.
Fodder for Future Conflicts
14. hift in political alignments did occur under the pressure of the decision onthe first fissures in the collectivecould well appear when it again turns itsto outstanding problems at home, inthe contentious issue of allocations, now further complicated by the unforeseen expenses of the invasion and its aftermath. Last year, before theproblem began to dominate the leaders' time and energy, the most conspicuous source of contention within the leadership was the question of capital investments in agriculture. Polyansky vested interest in promoting increased this sector, protested publiclycutback. in these allocations. When
reducedgoals for agriculture were announced last fall, Polyansky again broke ranks and published anmajor defense of the original goals in the Central Committee journal
Koran un ist
15. in the aftermath of the invasion, there are some small signsecasting of the balance within the Politburo. trenuous effort was made to involve all the members of the Politburo, not only in the decision to invade, but in the week of "nego-
osrsetting portent was tne appearance
week,opular weekly magazine, of an article urging journalists and historians to write about the
exploits ofh Army in the Great Patriotic War, with particular reference to the important role played by "Col. Brezhnev." This articleharp break with the pattern of minimal personal publicity for individual leaders that has been established since Khrushchev's ouster- It may be intended to underline Brezhnev's ties to and support from the military, but it may also indicate that hisare sufficiently uneasy to resort once again to the dangerous game of the "cult of personality."
Leonid Brezhnev:eneral Secretary of CPSU
Central Committee. Russian by birth, but began his career in and retains an identification with Dnepropetrovsk in the Ukraine. Orthodox in outlook; his political priorities areof the supremacy of the party,the ties of the socialist camp, protection of defense goals through allocations to heavy industry, with agricultural allocations ranking second.
Aleksey Kosygin:hairman of USSR Council of Ministers. Russian, born in Leningrad but has worked in the center in the state apparatus Pragmatictrong interestalanced ecoTiomy, especially interested in increased attention to consumer goods andof economic planning methods*
Nikolay Podgorny: ace Chairman cf Presidium
USSR Supreme Soviet. Ukrainian by birth and career, with identifiable ties to Kharkov in the Ukraine. Under Khrushchev, identified with relatively liberal views, but since6 has moved steadily toward orthodoxy in support of Brezhnev.
Mikhail Suslov:ecretary of CPSU Central Committee with informal ranking of second-in-command, high priest in doctrinal matters with special interest in the cohesion ofCommunism. Orthodox in outlook, opposed to "revisionism" in any field. Has shown an acute sensitivity to shifting political tides evidenced byyear record on the
Andrey Kirilenko:ecretary of CPSU Central Committee. Ukrainian by birth and in career, having followed Brezhnev up the ladder from Dnepropetrovsk. Alternates with Suslov infor Brezhnev when the latter is out of town.
Kirill Mazuroviirst Deputy Chairman of
USSR Council of Ministers- Belorussian by birth and career, retains ties through his formerPetr Masherov, who succeeded him as head of the Belorussian party organization. Pragmatic in outlook, responsible for industry as First Deputy Premier, but also interested inthrough the rural reconstruction plan being strongly pushed by the Belorussian party trong proponent of theaspects of the economic reform. with Polyansky in deputizing for Kosygin.
Arvid Pelshe:hairman of Party Control Con-mission. Latvian by birth and career, may have career ties to Suslov. Orthodox in outlook, does not figure much in reports on maneuvering within the Politburo.
Dmitry Polyansky:irst Deputy Chairman of
USSR Council of Ministors. Ukrainian by birth, career ties to the Crimea and thusoyal member of the Ukrainian group in the Politburo. Has served in both party and state positions. As First Deputy Premier is responsible forproduction, andealous champion of investment in the agricultural production base.
Aleksandr Shelepin:hairman of All-Union
Central Council of Trade Unions. Russian, made his career in the Komsomol, then as head of the KGB. Has ties with Individuals in party and state positions through career associations, but does not have any particular geographic base. May also draw support from within the military.
Petr Shelest:krainian by birth and career,
still based in Kiev. First Secretary of Ukrainian Central Committee. Reportedly owes his rise to Khrushchev rather than to either Brezhnev or Podgorny, orthodox in outlook.
Gennady Voronov: Russian by birth and career. Chairmar, of RSFSR Council of Ministers. figure, tending toward pragmatism in outlook.