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Longtime KGB chief Yuriy Andropov took power in the Kremlin after Brezhnev’s death in 1982, determined to reform the sclerotic regime he inherited but also aware that for health reasons he had only a limited amount of time to act. Andropov imposed a discipline campaign that aroused widespread resentment, but he succumbed to kidney disease in 1984, before he could accomplish permanent change. This chapter covers scandals and leadership maneuvering as Brezhnev’s health worsened, a snapshot of the USSR at the time of Brezhnev’s death, Andropov’s accession to power, and the effect of his discipline campaign in “freezing up” the country, according to some contemporary accounts. The chapter describes Andropov’s choice of Gorbachev as his closest adviser and leadership maneuvering around the selection of Konstantin Chernenko as Andropov’s successor.

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