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Sharp Attack on Brezhnev, Khrushchev in Soviet Press

January 30, 1987 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ A top political analyst, in the harshest personal criticism of Leonid Brezhnev ever to appear in the Soviet Union, said the former Kremlin leader allowed himself to be turned into ″a monument to himself.″

The article by former Brezhnev protege Alexander Bovin appeared in the latest issue of the state-run New Times weekly, which went on sale today. It also attacked Nikita Krushchev for betraying the hopes of a generation.

A summary of the article was carried Thursday by the official Tass news agency.

Although Bovin’s article was unusual in criticizing the personalities of the two late party chiefs, it is typical in Soviet history for a Kremlin leadership to denounce its predecessors. Khrushchev attacked Stalin in 1956, three years after Stalin’s death, and Brezhnev denounced Khrushchev after the latter was ousted in 1964.

Brehznev’s tenure as Communist Party chief from 1964 until his death in 1982 is now routinely linked to stagnation and corruption, but most criticisms don’t mention the late Kremlin leader by name.

In his speech to the Communist Party Central Committee on Tuesday, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev was critical of the Brezhnev and Khrushchev years but did not mention their names.

Bovin’s article accused ″conservatives″ of blocking change and was clearly linked to the campaign waged by Gorbachev against the party’s old guard.

It followed a meeting this week of the Central Committee at which two Brezhnev-era stalwarts, Dinmukhamed A. Kunaev, 74, and Mikhail S. Zimyanin, 72, were ousted from the party’s top organs.

Since coming to power in March 1985, Gorbachev has criticized stagnation of the economy under Brezhnev and the grandiose projects and sudden shifts in policy linked to Khrushchev.

Bovin, who writes for the government newspaper Izvestia, is one of this country’s best known political analysts. His article was certain to be carefully read by Soviets wanting to know how current Kremlin leaders reinterpret the past.

Bovin said a group of ″Soviet socialist conservatives‴ stand in the way of the changes endorsed by Gorbachev. ″Already twice in my lifetime they rolled us back, twice blocked the way of long overdue and essential change,″ he wrote.

He said the party’s 20th congress in 1956, at which Khrushchev shocked many Soviets by denouncing Stalin, was ″a cleansing storm which gave us a hope of the future.″

″Then I watched, along with my generation, with puzzlement, anguish and a disgusting sense of my own impotence how the ideas of one of the truly historic congresses of our party kept seeping through the bureaucratic sand,″ Bovin wrote.

Echoing a favorite theme of Gorbachev’s, Bovin said Soviet officials failed ″to overcome silent obedience and slavish kowtowing to the bosses and to learn to conduct serious and open discussions about our own affairs.″

″Nikita Khrushchev, who challenged the stalwarts of Stalin’s personality cult, soon began to permit and encourage adulation,″ he wrote.

Bovin served Brezhnev as Central Committee adviser until the two men had a falling-out in the 1970s. ″Leonid Brezhnev was a man who undoubtedly had innate common sense, (but who) allowed himself to be turned into a monument to himself,″ Bovin wrote.

In the last years of his tenure, Brezhnev was both president and party leader, was made a marshal of the Soviet Union and granted numerous medals and decorations.

Bovin referred to this week’s Central Committee meeting, endorsing its call for continued change in Soviet society. But he noted a parallel in history that produced little result.

In 1965, he said, nationwide reforms were announced in a attempt to streamline socialist planning and increase efficiency, two of the chief economic goals mentioned now by Gorbachev.

″Correct words resounded from above and the right decisions were made,″ Bovin wrote. ″But they were blocked by the apathy and conservatism of the executive machinery.″