How Leonid Ilyich had the last laugh….

Леонид Ильич Брежнев…  I mean Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev became the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR in 1964, after his predecessor N.S. Khrushchev was removed by a group of plotters, and he stayed in this position until his death in 1982.

Brezhnev presided over the Soviet Union for longer than anyone except Stalin. Under his leadership, the Soviet Union reached its political and strategic peak in relations to the United States and Western Europe. Despite leading the nation to unprecedented and never-repeated levels of power, prestige, and internal calm under his rule,  he is criticised for for a prolonged era of stagnation called the ‘Brezhnev Stagnation’, in which fundamental economic problems were ignored and the Soviet political system was allowed to decline.

Additionally, his last years as leader was marked by a growing personality cult, which had not been seen since the reign of Stalin. On the flip side, a spate of jokes began to appear in the 1970s when ailing Brezhnev was widely rumored to be nearly senile. Similar rumors circulated about other members of the ruling Politburo, such as Chernenko (Brezhnev’s successor), Arvid Pelshe, Mikhail Suslov, Alexei Kosygin, and others. While the official propaganda continued unabashedly flatter Brezhnev, focussing on his “wisdom”, “statesmanship”,  the people enjoyed jokes about Brezhnev’s “stupidity”, “self-aggrandizement”, and the endless repetition in the official press, radio and TV of the constant reference to Brezhnev as “our dear comrade Brezhnev.”

Here are some of these jokes: I start with the one I like the best.

At the 1980 Olympics, Brezhnev begins his speech. “O!” — applause. “O!” — more applause. “O!” — yet more applause. “O!” — an ovation. “O!!!” — the whole audience stands up and applauds. An aide comes running to the podium and whispers, “Leonid Ilyich, that’s the Olympic rings, you don’t need to read it!”

A telephone rings in Brezhnev’s office. Brezhnev takes the receiver and says, “Our dear comrade Brezhnev is listening.”

Somebody knocks at the door of Brezhnev’s office. Brezhnev walks to the door, sets glasses on his nose, fetches a piece of paper from his pocket and reads, “Who’s there?”

Brezhnev makes a speech on TV. “I heard about malicious rumors maintaining that instead of myself they carry a dummy in my car. I categorically deny these allegations and assert you that instead of a dummy they carry me!”

During Brezhnev’s visit to England, Prime Minister Thatcher asked the guest, “What is your attitude to Churchill?”
“Who is Churchill?”
Brezhnev said.
Back in the embassy, the Soviet envoy said, “Congratulations, comrade Brezhnev, you’ve put Thatcher in her place. She will not ask stupid questions any more.”
“And who is Thatcher?”
Brezhnev said.

At a Politburo meeting, Brezhnev said, “Comrades, our comrade Pelshe is senile. Yesterday I met him in the corridor and I said, ‘Good morning, Pelshe.’ He answered, “But I’m not Pelshe.” So I said, “You have lost your marbles, Pelshe, you even don’t remember who you are, we’ll have to remove you from the Politburo.” And he said, “But I am not in the Politburo.”

Brezhnev plays with his grandson. “Who will you be when you grow up?”
“A General Secretary.”
“What for do we need two General Secretaries?”

Brezhnev is walking in a corridor in the Kremlin. And aide is walking toward him and says, “Merry Christmas.”
Brezhnev walks more and meets another aide who says, “Merry Christmas.”
Brezhnev answers, “Yes, I know, I was already told.”

Brezhnev gives a speech. He fetches a piece of paper from his pocket, sets glasses on his nose and reads, “We’ll never forget our dear comrade Brezhnev…. Eh, again I’ve donned somebody’s jacket.”

Suslov is dying, the Politburo members are sitting next to his bed. They are waiting for the doctor to announce Suslov’s death. After a long silence, the doctor says, “Yes, comrades, no one is immune. Our main enemy is old age.”
Brezhnev says. “Our main enemy is the lack of discipline. “Look, we have all been waiting for half an hour, but Suslov is still not here!”

Brezhnev visited a factory. “How is your life, comrades?”
“It’s good, comrade General Secretary.”
“And do you want to live even better?”
“If you give us such a directive, we’ll live even better.”

To be continued…..


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