The Power Struggle Behind Brezhnev’s Assassination

   In January 1969, the Soviet Union conducted a successful manned space launch. On January 22, millions of people stood in front of radios and televisions, listening to and watching the scene of Brezhnev, the general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, welcoming the aerospace heroes at the airport. Suddenly, the live TV broadcast was interrupted and resumed an hour later. The awards ceremony was broadcast, and the people in the camera looked uneasy. What made the audience even more puzzled was that the original award presenter, Brezhnev, was gone, replaced by Podgorny, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.
   Rumors spread quickly – Brezhnev was assassinated! It is clearly remembered that Brezhnev’s convoy was advancing under the protection of motorcycle police just before the signal was cut off. What exactly happened during the disappearance of the signal?
   It turned out that a young man in a police uniform suddenly rushed out of the crowd, deliberately letting go of the first car in the front, standing in front of the second car, holding a pistol in each hand, pulling the trigger continuously, and the shot was over. 16 rounds. The police and KGB (Soviet State Security Council) agents rushed forward and held the assassin down.
   It turned out that the assassin was a second lieutenant in the Soviet army named Viktor Ilyin. On the morning of January 21, he suddenly left the barracks, came to his uncle’s house in Moscow, and stole his uncle’s police uniform.
   Why is Yili able to assassinate with two pistols? Declassified files show that the main reason is that some people in the KGB have ulterior motives.
   The position of the head of the KGB is sensitive and can often play an important role in power struggles. In the political turmoil behind Khrushchev’s resignation, there was the shadow of then-KGB chairman Semichasny. Therefore, after Brezhnev came to power, he quickly installed “his own” Zweigon to the side of Andropov, the new chairman of the KGB. Andropov also knew that Tsvigon belonged to Brezhnev, so there were frequent frictions between the two.
   On January 21, 1969, Zweigon successively received three secret telegrams, in which the secret telegrams reported in detail Iriin’s actions and purposes. On January 22, before Brezhnev got into the car, he received a phone call from Tsvigon. But Zweigon only said that the situation was urgent and suggested Brezhnev take a third car instead. Tsvigon had his own calculus: let Ilyin shoot the second car, and in the car was Beregovoi, who looked like Brezhnev. In this way, his opponent Andropov will definitely be held accountable.
   At this time, Andropov had also figured out the ins and outs of the matter from his subordinates. Time was running out, and he took urgent action: calling and instructing the TV station to emphasize that Brezhnev was in the second car in the report; calling Brezhnev and suggesting that he change to the fifth car.
   Afterwards, Brezhnev suspected that other political factions wanted his orders and asked the KGB to find out. But the KGB’s findings said the reason was simply that the officer’s family had been unfairly treated.
   Brezhnev felt that the KGB was unreliable, so he aimed at Kosygin, Sherepin, Sherest, and Podgorny in the Political Bureau of the CPSU Central Committee. These four were prominent and were Brezhnev’s main threat. Through various means, Brezhnev struck these four dissidents. After that, Brezhnev’s appointment of cadres no longer cared about his ability, but only concerned about whether he was loyal to him. Because of Brezhnev’s cronyism, it caused the collective corruption of Soviet officials.