Galina Brezhneva

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Галина Брежнева, Gaļina Brežņeva, Галина Леонидовна Брежнева,Galina Brezhneva,
Maskavas Novodevičje (Новодевичье) kapsēta

Galina Leonidovna Brezhneva (Russian: Галина Леонидовна Брежнева; 18 April 1929 – 30 June 1998) was the daughter of Soviet politician and longtime General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Viktoria Brezhneva.

Life and death

Brezhneva was born on 18 April 1929 in Sverdlovsk. As a child she refused to become a member of the Komsomol, and later, refused to study for an academic degree. Brezhneva was married briefly to Igor Kio, a union which lasted only 9 days. By 1971, her father, Leonid Brezhnev had become displeased with the way things were going in Brezhneva's life. Brezhnev wanted to arrange a marriage for Brezhneva, after having Brezhneva's second marriage annulled, and from a number of suitors Yuri Churbanov was selected by Brezhneva. Churbanov was chosen even though he was already married and had children. By the end of Brezhnev's life, Brezhneva was much-less visible, and under the reign of Yuri Andropov, she disappeared from the public eye altogether. Brezhneva made a public comeback during Konstantin Chernenko's short rule, and she appeared in a conference commemorating International Women's Day. At the conference Brezhneva wore only one piece of jewelry, the Order of Lenin she had been awarded by Andrei Gromyko in 1978 for her fiftieth birthday.

Later, after Churbanov had been arrested on charges of corruption, Brezhneva divorced him. Brezhneva married for a fourth, and last time, at the age of 65 to a 29 year old man. Before her death Brezhneva had been a guest on British television to talk about life in the Soviet Union. Brezhneva, in her later life, gradually became an alcoholic, and her daughter placed her in a psychiatric hospital where she died on 30 June 1998.

Personal life and rumours

Historian Larisa Vasilʹeva wrote in her book that "Galina Brezhneva was an all-too-typical product of what came to be known as the Era of Stagnation". Brezhneva was a heavy drinker and was known to be heavy-tempered. She had little self-discipline, and had a seemingly natural tendency toward self-gratification. She was known for her passion for jewelry and diamonds. Why or how Galina received her diamonds were unknown to the majority at the time, however, according to a former director of Yuvelirtorg, the state-run jewelry company in the USSR, all jewellery and valuables seized from criminals were given to nomenklatura members. There were many rumors circulating Soviet society about Brezhneva, most notable during Leonid Brezhnev's tenure as General Secretary; these rumours have been colloquially referred to as "diamond legends". In one such rumor, Brezhneva, during her visit to the Georgian SSR, visited a museum where she noticed two relics on display. Brezhneva then demanded the two relics to be given to her as a gift. The museum director refused to comply and instead called the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, Eduard Shevardnadze, to discuss the matter with General Secretary Brezhnev. Shevardnadze told Brezhnev that given her Georgian national heritage, her behavior was unacceptable; Brezhnev agreed and ordered Brezhneva back to Moscow.

Stories such as this one greatly affected Brezhnev. The General Secretary said once to a party colleague that "The world respects you, but your own family causes you pain". At the height of perestroika, a reform initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, many of the rumors about Brezhneva became increasingly wild and questionable; new details and information, possibly apocryphal, were increasingly included in the rumors. In popular culture, these rumors helped depict the Brezhnev era as an "Era of Stagnation". Many of the rumors stemmed from the fact that most of Brezhneva's friends and colleagues had earlier been arrested, and the majority of them had been linked to some sort of corruption.


In January 1982, as part of Andropov's anti-corruption campaign while Brezhnev was still alive, several prominent jewelry smugglers who all had links with Brezhneva were arrested, with some of them even receiving the death sentence[citation needed]. It was later proven that Galina was smuggling jewelry out of the Soviet Union on such a scale as to threaten the business of De Beers Consolidated Mines, a group of companies concentrated on mining of diamonds. Brezhneva was detained by the authorities, being summoned in one instance to the KGB headquarters for questioning. Being the daughter of Brezhnev resulted in charges against Brezhneva being dismissed; she was, however, internally exiled by the Andropov administration. When Gorbachev became General Secretary the criminal investigations against Galina and her brother, Yuri, were resumed. Her brother Yuri, a former First Deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, and her husband, Yuri Churbanov, were both arrested on charges of corruption. However, investigators were never able to produce any solid charges against Galina for her post-1982 criminal activities. In her later life, Galina had become an alcoholic and usually signed statements without reading them properly.



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