Ex-Politburo Member’s Memoirs Portray Kremlin Power Struggles
MOSCOW (AP) _ In an insider’s look at Kremlin intrigues during the Soviet era, a former top-ranking Communist says even members of the ruling Politburo had their homes bugged by the KGB.
The comment by Viktor Grishin, who lost out to Mikhail Gorbachev in his bid to become Soviet leader in 1985, came in his newly published memoirs. And it strengthens growing evidence that no official was immune to bugging.
``The KGB’s equipment let them know every word said inside the party and government leaders’ homes and country residences,″ wrote Grishin, who served as Moscow party boss for nearly two decades until being replaced by Boris Yeltsin.
Grishin finished the memoirs, titled ``From Khrushchev to Gorbachev,″ just before his death in 1992. They were presented Wednesday by his family and colleagues.
He also accused ex-KGB head Yuri Andropov, his bitter rival in the struggle for power in the 1980s, of systematically gathering compromising materials on all Politburo members.
``I have a dossier on each of you,″ Grishin quoted Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev as telling a group of Politburo members.
Grishin was firmly linked in the public mind with the rampant bribery and graft of the Brezhnev era, although he was never prosecuted for any crime. He was allied in the Politburo with a faction of loyal Brezhnev proteges against Andropov, Gorbachev and their allies.
His aide, Yuri Izyumov, said Wednesday that Andropov and then Gorbachev tried to implicate Grishin in corruption in order to remove a strong rival.
Grishin was considered one of the most powerful members of the Communist elite and a top candidate for the post of the party’s secretary-general. He narrowly lost out three times _ to Andropov in 1982 after Brezhnev’s death, to Konstantin Chernenko in 1984 when Andropov died, and to Gorbachev in March 1985 when Chernenko died.
Izyumov told The Associated Press that shortly before his death, Chernenko picked Grishin as his preferred successor, but Gorbachev managed to outmaneuver him.
In December 1985, Grishin became the first member of the Communist Party’s old guard ousted by Gorbachev in his purge of the Politburo.
Grishin died in May 1992 in line at a welfare office in Moscow, where he was waiting to register for an increase in his meager state pension.