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Andropov Yuri Vladimirovich


The son of a railway official, he worked as a loader and a sailor for the Volga steamship line. He joined the youth wing of the Communist Party at 16, and was soon promoted to First Secretary of its Central Committee. In 1951 he was transferred to the Communist Party Central Committee.

A staunch supporter of Stalin, he was demoted after Stalin’s death and sent to the “backwaters” of Hungary, where he became Soviet Ambassador. He played a key role in crushing the 1956 Hungarian Popular Uprising, by convincing Nikita Khrushchev that military intervention was necessary, while “negotiating” reconciliation with the Hungarian leaders. The Soviet Union sent in a larger force then it used to fight the Nazis to quickly quash all resistance. Hungarian leaders were arrested and Prime Minister Imre Nagy was executed.
Andropov returned to Moscow and soon he was appointed head of the KGB. He wanted to "destroy dissent in all its forms" and established the KGB’s Fifth Directorate for “combating ideological sabotage by dissidents and their imperialist masters.” He created a network of psychiatric hospitals where dissidents would be “treated” against their will indefinitely.

During the Prague Spring, Andropov ordered the fabrication of false intelligence to whip up fear that Czechoslovakia could fall victim to a NATO sponsored coup. This was used as a pretext for the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Andropov also insisted on the invasion of Afghanistan, leading to the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989).
Two days after Leonid Brezhnev's death, on November 12, 1982, Andropov was elected General Secretary. He started his rule by purging his predecessor’s cronies. He dismissed 18 ministers and 37 first secretaries; criminal cases on high party and state officials were started. To mislead the West, fabricated reports were published about his life, and several people with intimate knowledge about him (including his former interpreter in Hungary) disappeared mysteriously.

Soviet-U.S. arms control negotiations were broken off and President Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire".

Andropov died of kidney failure 18 months into his rule, naming Gorbachev as his successor.