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Brezhnev Gave Medals to Himself, Son-in-Law, Pravda Says

United Press International

Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev awarded himself a coveted World War II medal that he did not earn and bestowed other war medals on his son-in-law, who was 5 years old when the fighting began, the newspaper Pravda said Sunday.

Brezhnev, who ruled the Soviet Union from 1964 until his death in 1982, consistently appeared in public bedecked with medals, ribbons and badges--including six Orders of Lenin, two Orders of the October Revolution and three awards as a “Hero of Socialist Labor.”

“But the most blatant” was Brezhnev’s awarding to himself the Victory Medal of World War II, “reserved for commanders on more than one front who by their action altered the course of the war in the Soviets’ favor,” the Communist Party paper said.

Brezhnev was a political officer on the southern front, “and he could not have brought about such actions prescribed for Victory Medal holders,” Pravda said.

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Pravda said Brezhnev also bestowed World War II medals on his son-in-law, Yuri Churbanov, a former deputy national police chief “who was 5 years old when the war began and could barely toddle about.”

The paper also said that Churbanov, now imprisoned on a charge of taking bribes, flew to Afghanistan shortly after the 1979 Soviet invasion and was awarded a medal from that conflict although “he never participated in any battle.”

The venom against Brezhnev and what Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev has called the “time of decay” during Brezhnev’s 18-year rule led to Brezhnev’s name being stripped from every site named for him, including a city in the Ural Mountains.

Brezhnev’s memoirs were once printed in such numbers that he was hailed by Pravda as the world’s most published author. Now, the memoirs are virtually unavailable and are openly mocked by the official press.

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