Magazine article Russian Life

Russia Will Always Have Brezhnevs

Magazine article Russian Life

Russia Will Always Have Brezhnevs

Article excerpt

I had to pinch myself. So striking was the resemblance of Andrei Leonidovich Brezhnev to his grandfather Leonid Iliych, that I felt transported back in time to the now-infamous Brezhnev Era of Stagnation.

In reality it was still 1998. And it was just another crazy Moscow press conference. But, at this one, Andrei Brezhnev was announcing that he is General Secretary (!) of the newly-established All-Russian Communist Movement. His grampa would be so proud...

Actually, as time wore on, Andrei looked less and less like his infamous dedushka (grandfather). The eyebrows were bushy, but obviously thinner than his forebear's. Still, just like Leonid Ilyich, Andrei could not say much without looking at his papers. But at least his diction was a bit clearer [regular RL readers will remember that Leonid Ilyich had a tendency to slur in his old age, making sotsialisticheskie strany (socialist countries), come out sounding like sosiski sraniye (s-y sausages)]. And, of course, Andrei's jacket was absent the awards for Hero of Socialist Labor and Hero of the Soviet Union.

And, it turned out, Andrei Leonidovich and I had a bit in common. First of all, he is my age. Born in 1961, he, as I, graduated from college in 1983. And, as he confessed at the press conference, he had dreamed of traveling abroad in his student years. Me too. But he was stopped. Ditto.

In my case, the Communist Party Bureau at my interpreter's faculty banned me from going on a linguistic training internship at France's Grenoble University. I was told that being the top student in the French department was not enough; my ideological and moral foundation were too shaky. During one interview with communist bosses, I was foolish enough to say that I preferred pop to classical music. Plus, on the eve of the trip, a girl (whom I had recently quit dating) studying at a neighboring pedagogical faculty reportedly made "the right signal" to the communist bosses.

Andrei Leonidovich had a different problem. He said at the press conference that he could not travel abroad because his "name was too well-known."

Ah, my heart goes out to poor Andryusha. I can well understand why he longs, even today, for a "return to the forgotten values of socialism. …

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