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Brezhnev Remembered Fondly 100 Years Since Birth

Published: December 19, 2006 (Issue # 1231)


Many remember Leonid Brezhnev as a mumbling dotard with dark bushy eyebrows and a cuirass of medals pinned on his broad chest.

But more Russians today would rather live under Brezhnev, who would have turned 100 on Tuesday, than any other Soviet or post-Soviet leader, with the exception of President Vladimir Putin.

Brezhnev himself lived well, and he allowed others to live, said Marina Pukhalskaya, a Moscow pensioner who received free higher education, a relatively prestigious job as a civil engineer and, eventually, a free apartment during an 18-year rule that some quipped would never end.

People who knew Brezhnev or studied his leadership describe him as an apt bureaucrat but poor economist who had little regard for civil liberties or human rights. Acquaintances recalled astonishing displays of fairness and generosity, such as the time Brezhnev stood up for a sleepy conscript who accidentally hit the French presidents plane with a snowplow.

The protagonist of a zillion anecdotes, Dear Leonid Ilyich, as Brezhnev was known, is still remembered for the unprecedented stability that allowed ordinary people to plan out their lives. He also raised the Soviet Union to new levels of power and prestige.

For 18 years, the country lived in clover, said Andrei Brezhnev, the grandson of Leonid Brezhnev. He was 21 when the Soviet leader died of a heart attack in 1982.

Granddad was very intelligent. Otherwise, he would not have been allowed by others to run the country for so long, he said.

A nationwide survey last year indicated that 31 percent of Russians would prefer to live during the Brezhnev era, while 39 percent picked Putins time. Only 1 percent of the 3,200 people polled by the state-run VTsIOM longed for Boris Yeltsins 1990s.

Critics of the Brezhnev era and there are many focus on the prolonged stagnation of the 1970s, when authorities ignored fundamental economic problems and allowed the political system to decline. But even they agree that Russia is managing to live well by exploiting the biggest legacy of the Brezhnev era the vast infrastructure that connects the gas-rich bowels of Siberia to the ovens of residents in Munich, Germany.

Developing those oil and gas fields was the most serious achievement of the Brezhnev era, former Acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar said. And although it was never discussed openly at that time, the country had set its hopes on oil and gas exports.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 31


Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).


Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).


The Womens Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.



Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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