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Ex-KGB Head Semichastny Dies at 77

Published: January 16, 2001 (Issue # 636)


MOSCOW - Vladimir Semichastny, former head of the Soviet KGB security service and a key figure in the 1964 plot to oust Soviet leader Nikita Khru shchev, died Friday at age 77, the radio station Ekho Moskvy reported.

Ekho Moskvy quoted Semichastny's wife as saying he had died of a stroke.

Semichastny moved into the upper echelons of the Soviet hierarchy by taking on the job of first secretary of the Kom somol, the communist youth movement, in 1958.

He became head of the KGB under Khru shchev in 1961 and served for six years during the Cuban missile crisis and construction of the Berlin wall. He welcomed British spy George Blake after his 1966 escape from jail in his homeland.

Semichastny outstayed Khrushchev only to be removed in 1967 by his successor, Leonid Brezhnev, who appointed him deputy prime minister of his native Ukraine.

He had no regrets for his role in toppling Khrushchev, who denounced Josef Stalin in a landmark 1956 speech and led efforts to liberalize the Soviet Union.

"I have no regrets and nothing to reproach myself. I believe everything was done correctly," he said in a recent interview broadcast on NTV television.

Semichastny was charged with the task of meeting Khrushchev at the airport on Oct. 13, 1964, on his return from a Black Sea resort to tell him of his removal as party first secretary.

He said Khrushchev's call for rapid reform had made his departure inevitable. But he persuaded Brezhnev against killing him, advocating instead "more democratic" means of ousting him through the Communist Party apparatus.

"In the end, he went too far. Khrushchev wanted everything at once and he had to go," he told Britain's weekly Observer newspaper in a 1998 interview.

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Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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