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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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