Yuri Andropov

Yuri Andropov
Birth Place
Probably Nagutskoye
Date of Birth
15 June 15, 1914
Date of Death
9 February 1984


Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was the son of a railway official. He left school at sixteen and held a variety of jobs before entering Komsomol (the Communist Youth League) in 1930. He benefited from Stalin's purges during the 1930s and rose rapidly through the political ranks. During the Second World War Andropov was involved in partisan guerrilla activities. After the war, he held positions in the Karelo-Party apparatus before being transferred to the Communist Party's Central Committee in 1951.

Following Stalin’s death in 1953 he was demoted and sent to Budapest as a counsellor in the Soviet Embassy but a year later was promoted to ambassador to Hungary. While in post he kept a close watch on unfolding events in Hungary and his reports played an important part in the Soviet decision to invade in 1956.

With the success of Hungary behind him Andropov returned to Moscow and resumed a steady rise through the party structure. This culminated in his appointment as head of the KGB in May 1967. During the period of his leadership the KGB refined its methods. Dissent was severely repressed, and dissidents frequently confined to psychiatric hospitals. Conscious of world opinion the more famous dissidents were allowed to emigrate. In 1973 he became a full member of the Politburo. He retained the position after giving up his KGB post in 1982.

On 10 November 1982, just days after Brezhnev's death, he became the Communist Party's general secretary. During his premiership Andropov tried to improve the efficiency of the Soviet economy and reduce corruption. His foreign policy stance reflected the Soviet status quo but he had a number of problems. The Soviet Union remained embroiled in war in Afghanistan. He also tried to persuade the Europeans not to allow U.S. President Ronald Reagan to station Pershing missiles in Germany. It was also during Andropov's time that a Soviet fighter shot down a civilian South Korean airliner killing all 269 people on board.

It is said Andropov considered the election of Pope John Paul II a German-American conspiracy to undermine communism in Poland by selecting a Pole as Pope. He demanded a KGB investigation as to how such a thing had been allowed to happen. He supposed that President Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a leader of this conspiracy.

He died on 9 February 1984, at age 69, of acute kidney failure.

Although formally KGB head he has generally come to be identified as a possible gradualist reformer. Unfortunately most of this thought is speculative as his death cut short his premiership.


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