Galina Brezhneva

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Galina Brezhneva
Галина Брежнева
Galina Brezhneva.jpg
Personal details
Born Galina Leonidovna Brezhneva
(1929-04-18)18 April 1929
Sverdlovsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died 30 June 1998(1998-06-30) (aged 69)
Dobryniha, Moscow Oblast, Russian Federation
Nationality Soviet and Russian
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Spouse(s) 1) Eugene Milaev
2) Igor Kio
3) Yuri Churbanov
4) Unknown

Galina Leonidovna Brezhneva (Russian: Галина Леонидовна Брежнева; 18 April 1929 – 30 June 1998) was the daughter of Soviet politician and longtime General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Viktoria Brezhneva.

Life and death[edit]

Galina Brezhneva was born on 18 April 1929 in Sverdlovsk. As a teenager she refused to become a member of the Komsomol, and later, refused to study for an academic degree.[1] She was married briefly to Igor Kio, a union which lasted only 9 days.[2] By 1971, her father, Leonid Brezhnev had become displeased with the way things were going in Galina's life. Brezhnev wanted to arrange a marriage for Galina, after having her second marriage annulled. She ended up selecting Yuri Churbanov from a number of suitors. Churbanov was chosen even though he was already married and had children. By the end of Brezhnev's life, Galina was much less visible, and under the reign of Yuri Andropov, she disappeared from the public eye altogether. Galina Brezhneva made a public comeback during Konstantin Chernenko's short rule, and appeared in a conference commemorating International Women's Day. At the conference, Galina wore only one piece of jewelry, the Order of Lenin she had been awarded by Andrei Gromyko in 1978 for her fiftieth birthday.[3]

Later, after Churbanov had been arrested on charges of corruption, Galina divorced him. She married for a fourth, and last time, at the age of 65 to a 29-year-old man. Before her death Galina Brezhneva had been a guest on British television to talk about life in the Soviet Union.[1] In her later life, Galina gradually became an alcoholic, and her daughter placed her in a psychiatric hospital where she died on 30 June 1998.[4]

Personal life and rumours[edit]

Historian Larisa Vasilʹeva wrote in her book that "Galina Brezhneva was an all-too-typical product of what came to be known as the Era of Stagnation". Galina was a heavy drinker and was known to be heavy-tempered. She had little self-discipline, and had a seemingly natural tendency toward self-gratification.[5] She was known for her passion for jewelry and diamonds.[6] Why or how Galina received her diamonds were unknown to the majority at the time, though according to a former director of Yuvelirtorg, the state-run jewelry company in the USSR, all jewelry and valuables seized from criminals were given to nomenklatura members. There were many rumors circulating Soviet society about Brezhneva, most notable during Leonid Brezhnev's tenure as General Secretary; these rumors have been colloquially referred to as "diamond legends".[7] In one such story, Galina, during her visit to the Georgian SSR, visited a museum where she noticed two relics on display. She then demanded the two relics to be given to her as a gift. The museum director refused to comply and instead called the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, Eduard Shevardnadze, to discuss the matter with General Secretary Brezhnev. Shevardnadze told Brezhnev that given her Georgian national heritage, her behavior was unacceptable; Brezhnev agreed and ordered his daughter back to Moscow.[7]

Stories such as this one greatly affected Leonid Brezhnev. The General Secretary said once to a party colleague that "The world respects you, but your own family causes you pain".[7] At the height of perestroika, a reform initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, many of the rumors about Galina Brezhneva became increasingly wild and questionable; new details and information, possibly apocryphal, were increasingly included in the rumors. In popular culture, these rumors helped depict the Brezhnev era as an "Era of Stagnation".[7] Many of the rumors stemmed from the fact that most of Galina's friends and colleagues had earlier been arrested, and the majority of them had been linked to some sort of corruption.[8]


In January 1982, as part of Andropov's anti-corruption campaign while Leonid Brezhnev was still alive, several prominent jewelry smugglers who all had links with Galina Brezhneva were arrested, with some of them even receiving the death sentence[citation needed]. It was later proven that Galina was smuggling jewelry out of the Soviet Union on such a scale as to threaten the business of De Beers Consolidated Mines, a group of companies concentrated on mining of diamonds.[9] Brezhneva was detained by the authorities, being summoned in one instance to the KGB headquarters for questioning. Being the daughter of Leonid Brezhnev resulted in dismissal of the charges against Galina; she was, however, internally exiled by the Andropov administration.[9] When Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary the criminal investigations against Galina and her brother, Yuri, were resumed. Her brother, Yuri Brezhnev, a former First Deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, and her husband, Yuri Churbanov, were both arrested on charges of corruption. However, investigators were never able to produce any solid charges against Galina for her post-1982 criminal activities. In her later life, Galina had become an alcoholic and usually signed statements without reading them properly.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Galina Brezhneva". The Economist. 9 July 1998. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Famous Russian illusionist Igor Kio dies at 62". Russian International News Agency. 30 August 2006. 
  3. ^ a b Vasilʹeva 1994, p. 211.
  4. ^ Вопрос о том, кто будет следующим генсеком, решался над телом умершего Брежнева [The question on would be the next General Secretary, was decided over the body of the deceased Brezhnev] (in Russian). Loyd. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Vasilʹeva 1994, p. 209.
  6. ^ Vasilʹeva 1994, p. 209–210.
  7. ^ a b c d Vasilʹeva 1994, p. 210.
  8. ^ Vasilʹeva 1994, p. 210–211.
  9. ^ a b Glinsky, Dmitry; Reddaway, Peter (2001). The tragedy of Russia's reforms: market bolshevism against democracy. US Institute of Peace Press. p. 115. ISBN 1-929223-06-4.