Yuri Andropov – the godfather of perestroika
Yuri Andropov was a general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1982-1984).
Andropov was born on June 15, 1914, in the southern Russian region of Stavropol.
During World War II he worked with the partisan movement in Karelia, and after the war he became second secretary of the regional Party organization. In 1956 he was the ambassador to Hungary at the time of the Soviet invasion. In 1957 Andropov become head of the Central Committee’s Bloc Relations Department.
In 1962 he was promoted to Central Committee secretary and continued to oversee relations with other communist countries.
In 1967 he was appointed the head of the Committee on State Security (KGB) and a candidate member of the ruling Politburo.
In 1971 he was promoted to the rank of full Politburo member.
In May 1982 Andropov gave up the chairmanship of the KGB and returned to the Central Committee as a senior member of the Secretariat.
In June 1983 he was elected chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet—the head of state. During his very brief tenure as Party leader, Andropov was able to begin diverging from the norms of the Brezhnev era.
Andropov actively advanced the career of the youngest member of the Politburo, Agriculture Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
His regime is best remembered for the discipline campaign: an effort to enforce worker discipline, punishing workers who did not report for duty on time or were drinking on the job.
Probably the most notable event of Andropov’s tenure was the accidental shooting down by the Soviet military of a Korean Airlines plane that strayed into Soviet airspace in the Far East in September 1983.
Andropov died in February 1984. Andropov had had a lot of trouble with his health even before he assumed power. He had suffered from diabetes since the age of 30 and, when he was 52, he had a severe heart attack. His kidneys were in bad shape as a result of a case of salmonella contracted in China, and a case of Asian flu caught in Afghanistan.
Source: Encyclopedia of Russian History