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Moscow Party Chief Removed From Office

December 24, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ The Communist Party today removed Viktor V. Grishin, the longest-serving member of the ruling Politburo and a leading figure in the Kremlin’s old guard, from his post as Moscow party chief.

The official news agency Tass reported Grishin’s removal ″due to his retirement″ in an announcement that omitted the usual note of thanks for his service. The wording could indicate he left in disgrace.

In keeping with a pattern of power shuffles under Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Grishin was replaced by a younger man with industrial experience -54-year-old Boris N. Yeltsin. He is a newcomer to the top echelons of Kremlin power with a background in construction and engineering.

The brief Tass report said Grishin, 71, was replaced by Yeltsin at a Moscow party meeting presided over by Gorbachev.

Yeltsin was elected a secretary of the Communist Party in July. Tass did not say whether he will be given Politburo membership.

The agency did not say whether Grishin would be removed as a member of the Politburo, but he presumably will lose that post as well. Nikolai A. Tikhonov was removed from the Politburo after retiring as premier earlier this year.

Grishin, who was appointed Communist Party chief in Moscow in 1967, is one of the last members of the Politburo’s old guard that rose to power under the late Leonid I. Brezhnev.

They have been removed one-by-one under Gorbachev, who became Soviet leader in March.

Grishin became candidate, or a non-voting, member of the Politburo in 1961 and 10 years later was named to full membership. His 24 years on the Politburo made him the longest-serving member.

Only Dinmukhamed A. Kunaev, the party chief of Kazakhstan, who was appointed to full membership in 1971, has as much time as a voting member of the Politburo.

There had been persistent rumors that Grishin was on his way out. His name has been linked with a series of rumors and scandals involving Moscow’s housing construction industry, which the party investigated earlier this year.

Newspaper reports complained that construction officials were listing buildings as completed in order to meet their official targets, but then delayed occupation for months while work actually was being finished.

Other Brezhnev allies such as Politburo members Tikhonov and Grigory V. Romanov have been removed, and Andrei A. Gromyko was shifted from his powerful position as foreign minister to the largely ceremonial position of president.

Gorbachev has also removed, retired or shifted to other jobs dozens of other important party and government officials.

Tass said today’s action was taken at a special plenum of the Moscow party organization.

″The plenum relieved Viktor Grishin of the duties of first secretary of the Moscow city CPSU (Communist Party) committee due to his retirement,″ the announcement said.

It said Yeltsin was named in his place and that Gorbachev attended the session, a move that lent his personal authority to the switch. Grishin is thought to have been at odds with Gorbachev and his supporters.

Yeltsin has a background in construction and engineering and also has apparent ties to a group of new younger men who come from the Sverdlovsk region of the Ural Mountains, including Premier Nikolai I. Ryzhkov and deputy premiers Yakov P. Ryabov and Lev A. Voronin.

Tass did not include a note of thanks from the party for Grishin’s services as a leader of the national and Moscow party organizations.

By contrast, when Tikhonov retired in September, Tass published a letter in which he said he was too ill to continue his duties, but would be ready to help the party in any way he could.

Grishin, born Sept. 18, 1914, in the town of Serpuhkov near Moscow, was head of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions before he was named Moscow party chief in 1967.

During World War II, Grishin was put in charge of converting Soviet industrial production in Serpukhov to arms manufacture, service which kept him out of active duty on the front.

He entered party work in the post-war years, rising to be second secretary of the Moscow regional organization before he moved to the Trade Union Council.

Grishin has traveled extensively abroad, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, and visited Japan, France, Britain, Greece, and China.

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