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Aliev’s Absence Prompts Speculation About Health, Political Power

May 27, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ Politburo member Geidar A. Aliev, last seen in public May 1, has missed several important functions recently and there is speculation he may be in poor health or political trouble.

The 64-year-old Aliev was the only Moscow-based member of the 11-member Politburo who did not attend an airport ceremony Monday prior to Kremlin leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s departure for Romania.

Aliev also was the only Moscow-based Politburo member who was not present at last week’s Kremlin reception for Vietnamese leader Nguyen Van Linh.

On May 1, Aliev joined dozens of other party and government officials atop Lenin’s mausoleum on Red Square to watch the May Day parade. He has not been seen in public since.

Speculation about Aliev’s health and political standing increased Friday when he missed a meeting of Communist Party Central Committee officials on improving production of consumer goods.

Aliev is the Politburo member responsible for overseeing the production of consumer goods.

Fellow Politburo member Yegor K. Ligachev addressed the meeting and criticized the current state of production. Aliev was not mentioned by name.

Aliev did sign an obituary published in the party daily Pravda on Sunday, recording the death of a regional party official, confirming that he is still officially recognized as a Politburo member.

The usual forum for removing a Politburo member is at a plenary meeting of the Central Committee. A plenum is expected next month.

Since Gorbachev came to power in March 1985, he has removed Politburo members Grigory Romanov, Viktor Grishin, Nikolai Tikhonov and Dinmukhamed Kunaev.

Aliev is a native Azeri. The only other non-Russian Politburo members are Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, a Georgian, and Ukrainian party boss Vladimir V. Shcherbitsky.

Western diplomats in Moscow, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say the reasons behind Aliev’s absences are not clear. One diplomat said Aliev may be on vacation.

Aliev became a full member of the Central Committee in 1971 and was named a candidate, or non-voting member of the Politburo in 1976 under the patronage of then-President Leonid I. Brezhnev. He was named to full Politburo membership on Nov. 22, 1982, just after Brezhnev’s death.

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