Brezhnev stagnation

Brezhnev stagnation

Period of stagnation ( _ru. застой, transliterated "zastoy"), also known as Brezhnevian Stagnation, the Stagnation Period, or the Era of Stagnation ( _ru. Эпоха застоя, Период застоя), refers to a period of socio-economic slowdown in the history of the Soviet Union that started in the mid-1970s.


Various authors suggest various definitions of the epoch of stagnation, but generally, it refers to the period while Brezhnev was general secretary, also including, perhaps, the short administrations of Andropov and Chernenko, i.e., approximately from 1965 until 1985, or even through much of the term of Gorbachev, i.e. approximately from 1965 through the end of 1989.cite journal
last =Khazanov
first =Anatoly M.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Soviet Social Thought in the Period of Stagnation
journal =Philosophy of the Social Sciences
volume =22
issue =2
pages =231–237
publisher =SAGE Publications
date =
url =
doi =10.1177/004839319202200205
id =
accessdate =
] cite journal
last =Grant
first =Ted
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Russia, from Revolution to Counter-Revolution
journal =In defence of Marxism
issue =Part 6
pages =
date =2006-09-22
url =
doi =
id =
accessdate =

The beginning of this stagnation was marked with the Sinyavsky-Daniel trial and suppression of the Prague Spring; these are most known events which indicated that neither discussion nor serious reforms (even within the limited Soviet paradigm) would be allowed during that period. During that period, any serious critics of communism, communist leaders, Soviet literature, or even typical Soviet events were qualifed as anti-Soviet propaganda.

Brezhnev himself declared his time as the period of the Developed Socialism, proclaimed constructed in the 1977 Soviet Constitution: "The developed Socialist society (развитое социалистическое общество) is a natural, logical stage on the road to Communism." The same constitution stated the leading role of the Communist Party. [ [ Soviet Union (Former~) - Constitution] , {Adopted on: 7 Oct 1977 }
[ CONSTITUTION OF THE USSR (1977) CONSTITUTION (FUNDAMENTAL LAW) OF THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS] Adopted at the Seventh (Special) Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Ninth Convocation, On October 7, 1977 Novosti Press Agency Publishing House Moscow, 1985

Stagnation was characterized by suppression of both, growth in the economy and any social life of the country and repression of dissidents.

In the economy, a sharp reduction of economic growth was observed, in both Soviet and Western statistics. The Soviet Union's foreign trade and imports, once a small part of the economy, was now of great importance, which made détente a top priority.

In social life, on the one hand, this period was characterised by domestic peace, social stability and stable (although mostly moderate) incomes for the population of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Soviet society became static. Post-Stalinist reforms initiated under Nikita Khrushchev were discontinued. Not all the people accepted the ideology of stagnation. Non-loyalty was punished. Any non-authorised meetings and demonstrations were suppressed. [ Хроника Текущих Событий: выпуск 3 ] ] .
Dissidents were routinely arrested [ Хроника Текущих Событий: выпуск 4 ] ] [ Letter by Andropov to the Central Committee] (10 July 1970), (English translation).] .The supporters claimed that these arrests were illegal, because there is no any criminal element in the realization of the humanright to obtain and distribute information; this right was declared in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, [ resolution 217 A (III)] , accepted 10 Dec. 1948.] and the Final Act of the
Conference on security and co-operation in Europe (1975) [ CONFERENCE ON SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE FINAL ACT] Helsinki, 1 Aug. 1975.]

Many writers did not even talk about the stagnation and repressions. Later, during the glasnost, they pretended that they did not know about repressions of citizens, who did not support the Brezhnev stagnation.Sofia Kallistratova. We were not silent! - open letter to writer Chingiz Aitmatov, in Russian. [ С. В. Калистратова. Открытое письмо писателю Чингизу Айтматову] , 5 мая 1988 г.]

The stagnation effectively continued under Brezhnev's successors, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, until "perestroika" was initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986.


There was an ironic joke that panegyrists overlooked the fact that Brezhnev's expression "развитое общество" ("razvitoye obshchestvo" "developed society") enriched the Russian language. Until Brezhnev there were two versions of the adjective "развитое" in use: the one with the stress on the first syllable is a derivation of the verb "to develop" and the one with the stress on the second syllable is a derivation of the verb "to unweave". Brezhnev pronounced (and everyone else followed him) "razvitOye (obshchestvo)", with the stress on the third syllable, leaving room for mocking guesses what the word might mean. (Compare with "nucular" of American presidents.)

An oversized and inefficient bureaucratic apparatus headed by a club of geriatric Party leaders became the symbol of the stagnation period, and the target of political jokes. One popular joke went like this:

The historical period which succeeded was Perestroika, started in the middle of 1980s by Mikhail Gorbachev.


ee also

* Cold War

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