Konstantin Chernenko


Speech at the Extraordinary Plenary Meeting of the CPSU Central Committee

February 13, 1984


Date: 13 February, 1984.
Source:  Konstantin Chernenko, Safeguard Peace and Ensure the People's Well-Being, Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1984; pages 21-31.



Dear comrades.

I cordially thank the members of the Central Committee for the great honour bestowed on me—for electing me General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. I fully realise the enormous responsibility which is placed on me. I understand what important and exceptionally difficult work is to be done I assure the Central Committee and the Party that I will exert every effort, use all my knowledge and experience to live up to this trust, to continue, together with you. the principled policy of our Party which was steadily and persistently implemented by Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov

A gift for organising, a clear, creative mind, fidelity to Leninism in theory and in politics, a keen perception of what is new and an ability to accumulate the living experience of the masses, irreconcilability to all that is alien to our world outlook, way of life and morality, his personal charm, and modesty all won Yuri Andropov tremendous prestige and respect among the Party and the people.

The Party entrusted to him difficult and responsible fields of work. Yuri Andropov's best political and human qualities were particularly strikingly revealed in the posts of General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. He did not spare himself, always striving to be equal to the tasks facing him.

Yuri Andropov made a weighty personal contribution to the collective activities of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the Central Committee in outlining a thoroughly well-considered and realistic policy of the Party at the present stage—a policy of improving developed socialism It was under his leadership that the November 1982. June and December 1983 plenary meetings of the CPSU Central Committee were held and became important milestones in the life of the Party and the people. The political line of the 26th Congress of the CPSU was further creatively developed and given concrete expression in the decisions of the plenary meetings.

Yuri Andropov devoted much strength and energy to efforts to ensure peaceful conditions for the creative work of the Soviet people, to strengthen the positions of socialism in the international arena.

Yuri Andropov well understood that the source of the Party's prestige lies in the fact that it has gained and is strengthening its leading position and its honoured vanguard role by selfless service to the people, the ability precisely to express the interests of the working people and equip them with a correct Marxist-Leninist programme of action.

The convincing evidence of the correctness of the home and foreign policy of the CPSU, of its conformity to the requirements and spirit of the times is the ardent nationwide support for this policy The Party is firmly advancing along the path which it has chosen—the path of communist creative work and peace.

That is how it was in the past. It will always be so!


But, comrades, we all realise that just to wish to advance along that path is not enough. We must be able not only to set correct aims but also to work persistently for their attainment, surmounting all difficulties. It is necessary to evaluate realistically what has been achieved, without exaggerating it but not belittling it either. Only such an approach prevents mistakes in policies, a temptation to indulge in wishful thinking, and makes it possible to see clearly, as Lenin said, what we have done and what we have not fully done.

Yuri Andropov was fated to work at the head of our Party and state for a short, comrades, a painfully short time. We will all miss him. He passed away at the very height of great and intensive work aimed at powerfully accelerating the development of the national economy, at surmounting the difficulties which our country encountered at the turn of the eighties. But we all know what a great amount of work our Party has succeeded in doing in that short period of time, how many new and fruitful things have been accepted and reaffirmed in practice. By collective efforts continuing and further advancing the work started under the leadership of Yuri Andropov is the best way of paying tribute to his memory, of ensuring continuity in policies.

Continuity is not an abstract notion but a live, real task. Its essence is primarily moving forward without stopping, advancing while relying on everything that has been accomplished previously, creatively enriching it, concentrating the collective thought, the energy of the Communists, of the working class and of all the people on the unresolved tasks, on the key problems of the present and future. All this imposes a high responsibility upon us.

The strength of our Party lies in its unity, adherence to Marxism-Leninism, the ability to develop and direct the creative activity of the masses, to unite them ideologically and organisationally, guided by tested Leninist principles and methods. You know, comrades, what immense attention our Central Committee, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and Yuri Andropov recently paid to questions of perfecting the work of the state apparatus, improving the style of Party leadership.

One of them is a clear distinction between the functions of Party committees and the tasks of state and economic bodies, the elimination of duplication in their work. This is a major issue of political significance. Frankly speaking, not everything here has been properly adjusted. There are cases when workers at central and local government bodies, ministries and enterprises do not display the necessary independence, but refer to Party bodies matters which they should handle themselves. The practice of supplanting economic managers discourages cadres. Moreover, there is a danger in this of weakening the role of the Party commit-tee as a body of political guidance. For Party committees, handling the economy means, above all, being concerned with people who are managing the economy. This must always be borne in mind.

Comrades, a month and a half ago, at the December plenary meeting of the Central Committee, we gave an all-round appraisal of the state of affairs in the field of the country's social and economic development. The resolution it adopted emphasised the importance of maintaining the tempo achieved and the general mood to get things going, of steadily raising the level of Party and state guidance of the economy, of more actively developing positive trends and imparting a stable character to them. It is our direct duty to implement in a consistent way the instructions of the plenary meeting.

The whole of our experience confirms that the most important source of the Party’s strength was, is and will be its contact with the masses, the public-spirited activity of millions of working people, their attitude of businesslike concern for production matters, for problems of social life.

It is the duty of the Communist Party constantly to verify its course, its decisions and actions primarily by the thoughts of the working class, their great social, political and class intuition. Vladimir Lenin always highly valued the frankness and clarity of the judgements, well-founded in living experience, of the working man, sensitively heeded his opinion and appraisal of events and people, sought and found in them answers to the most urgent issues.

Heeding what is said among workers in the forefront of socialist construction and taking counsel with working people should today too be the prime obligation, a profound inner need for each Communist leader

To be able to perceive and back the people’s initiative promptly, and on the broadest scale —from a businesslike, creative approach to the work at one's place of employment to active participation in managing the affairs of state and society—constitutes the largest, one may say an inexhaustible, reserve of our progress. Our economy in varying degrees owes every one of its major accomplishments to the creative initiatives of work collectives, to their own plans, known as counter-plans.

The broad response by the country’s work collectives to the December plenary meeting's call to raise labour productivity by one per cent above plan and to reduce production costs further by 0.5 per cent gives rise to profound satisfaction. The patriotic enthusiasm, energy and businesslike approach with which the working people, the Party, trade union and Komsomol organisations have started to implement this task inspires confidence that success will be ensured.

I think it is necessary to consider the question of directing all the means and resources that will be obtained as a result —and they will be considerable— to improving the conditions of work and life of the Soviet people, medical services and housing construction. This would fully meet the supreme goal of the Party's policy —all-round concern for the good of man.

In general, comrades, we should probably think of providing better material and moral incentives for the creative initiatives and innovations of working people.

Social justice is the foundation of the Soviet system. This constitutes its immense strength. That is why it is so important that it be strictly observed in everyday affairs, whether the matter concerns salaries and bonuses, the distribution of housing and passes to health resorts, the granting of awards —in brief, that everything be done fairly, in accordance with each person's labour contribution to our common cause.

Here there is work to be done by Party, trade union and Komsomol organisations and economic managers. Much depends on the work collectives themselves. They now have extensive rights, endorsed by legislation. Now it is a matter of using them more fully.

The Party has lately enriched itself with fresh experience in guiding a socialist society. We have begun to make better use of the advantages and possibilities of our system. Among them, undoubtedly, are the degree of organisation and awareness of the masses. Hence our attention to strengthening order and discipline.

The question of organisation and order is one of principle for us. There can be no two views on this score. Any slackness, irresponsibility cause society not only material losses. They do serious social and moral harm. We Communists and millions of Soviet people understand this very well. And it is quite natural that the measures adopted by the Party with a view to enhancing labour, production, planning and state discipline and strengthening socialist legality have been received with nationwide approval.

We have already succeeded in making some progress in this field. And everybody knows what salutary effect this has had on production affairs, on our social life and simply on the mood of people Yet it would be wrong to believe that everything has already been done. No, comrades, life teaches us that there should by no means be any relaxing here.

So far as the guidelines for the development of our economy are concerned, these have been clearly outlined by the Party. The intensification of production, the accelerated introduction of the achievements of science and technology into production, the implementation of large-scale comprehensive programmes are all designed in the final analysis to raise the productive forces of our society to a qualitatively now level.

The system of economic management, the whole of our economic machinery need serious restructuring. Work in this direction has only been started. It includes a large-scale economic experiment for broadening the rights and increasing the responsibility of enterprises. A search is under way for new forms and methods of management in the field of public services. They will undoubtedly be very useful and help us resolve the strategically important problem of increasing the effectiveness of the whole national economy.

Let us, however, ask ourselves: does not waiting for the results of experiments serve some economic executives as a cover for passiveness, for wishing to work in the old way? It goes without saying that the renewal of economic structures is an important matter. In this field it will be advisable to observe the wise old rule: look before you leap. But this is no justification for those who do not wish to reckon at all with the changed conditions, with the new demands of life.

From our economic executives we expect more independence at all levels, a bold search and, if necessary, a well-justified risk for the sake of increasing the effectiveness of the economy and securing a rise in the living standards of the people.

You know that in the past year the CPSU Central Committee and the government have drawn up and adopted several decisions on principled issues of economic development. These decisions have given the Party and economic bodies certain levers for raising the effectiveness of production and accelerating the country's economic development.

The planned measures —and these measures are not only of economic but also of great political significance— will be put into life only if their implementation becomes the main substance of the daily work of every Party organisation, of every working person.

Coping with present-day tasks, we are creating the prerequisites for attaining much higher accomplishments in the future. Perhaps it is still early to speak in detail of our morrow, of the 12th five-year plan, but the main issues, the main directions of the work ahead are already to be seen now.

The new five-year plan should become, above all, the beginning of profound qualitative changes in production, a five-year plan of the decisive turning point in the intensification of all branches of our national economy. The present material and technological basis and the managerial system should acquire new, higher qualities.

It is no less important now to ensure an increasingly closer interconnection of the economic, social and cultural advance of Soviet society. It is impossible to raise the economy to a qualitatively new level without creating the necessary social and ideological prerequisites for it. It is likewise impossible to resolve pressing problems of the development of socialist awareness without reliance on a firm foundation of economic and social policy.

To build a new world means tirelessly to attend to the moulding of the people of the new world, to their ideological and moral advancement. The June plenary meeting of the Central Committee, as is known, considered questions of ideological and political work among the masses from precisely this viewpoint. In accordance with its directives the Party will seek to bring this work fully into line with the nature of the big and complex tasks of perfecting developed socialism.

To comprehend these tasks in their entirety, to outline the clear long-term strategy for their solution, to show the link between our current deeds and the Communist prospects —this is what a revised edition of the Party Programme should give us. The Central Committee attaches great significance to its preparation.

Comrades, drawing up plans for the further development of our country, we cannot but take into account the situation now emerging in the world. And, as you know, it is now a complicated and tense one. The correct course of the Party and the Soviet state in the sphere of foreign policy acquires even greater significance in these conditions.

The struggle for lasting peace, the freedom and independence of the peoples was always in the centre of attention of Yuri Andropov. Under his direction the Political Bureau of the CPSU Central Committee and our top bodies of state authority shaped an active foreign policy which is in line with these noble principles, a policy aimed at delivering mankind from the threat of a world nuclear war. This Leninist policy of peace, the main fea-tures of which wore determined at the present historical stage by the decisions of the latest congresses of the CPSU, accords with the fundamental interests of the Soviet people, and basically also of other peoples of the world And we firmly declare: we shall not deviate an inch from that policy.

It is absolutely clear, comrades, that the success of the efforts to preserve and strengthen peace depends to a considerable degree on how great will be the influence of the socialist countries in the world arena, how vigorous, purposeful and coordinated their actions will be. Our countries have a vital stake in peace. For the sake of this goal we will strive to broaden cooperation with all the socialist countries. By developing and deepening in every possible way cohesion and cooperation with all countries of the socialist community in all fields, including, of course, such an important one as the economic field, we are making a great contribution to the cause of peace, progress and international security.

Addressing the fraternal countries, we say: the Soviet Union will continue to be your reliable friend and true ally.

One of the fundamentals of the foreign policy of our Party and the Soviet state has been and will remain solidarity with the peoples who have shattered the fetters of colonial dependence and embarked on the path of independent development. Especially, of course, with the peoples who have to repel the attacks of the aggressive forces of imperialism which is creating very dangerous seats of bloody violence and war conflagration in one part of the world after another. Siding with the just cause of the peoples and working for the elimination of such hotbeds is today also an essential and important direction in the struggle for lasting peace on earth. Our Party's principled stand on these issues is clear, pure and noble. And we will unswervingly adhere to it.

Now about relations with capitalist countries. Great Lenin bequeathed to us the principle of the peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems. We are invariably loyal to this principle. Nowadays, in the age of nuclear weapons and super-accurate missiles, the peoples need it as never before. Regrettably, some leaders of capitalist countries, to all appearances, do not clearly realise, or do not wish to realise this.

We see very well the threat which the reckless, ad-venturist actions of imperialism's aggressive forces are creating today for mankind, and we speak of it out loud, drawing the attention of the peoples of the whole world to that danger. We do not need any military superiority. We do not intend to dictate our will to others. But we will not let the military equilibrium that has been achieved be upset. And let no one have even the slightest doubt that we will continue to see to it that our country's defence capability is strengthened, that we have sufficient means to cool the hot heads of bellicose adventurists. This, comrades, is a very substantial prerequisite for preserving peace.

As a great socialist power, the Soviet Union is fully aware of its responsibility to the peoples for preserving and strengthening peace. We are open to peaceful, mutually beneficial cooperation with states on all continents. We are for the peaceful settlement of all disputed international problems through serious, equal and constructive talks. The USSR will in full measure cooperate with all states prepared with practical deeds to help lessen international tension and create an atmosphere of trust in the world. In other words, with those who will really pursue a policy leading not to preparing for war but to strengthening the foundations of peace. And we believe that to this end full use should be made of all the existing levers, including, of course, such a one as the United Nations Organisation, which was founded precisely for preserving and strengthening peace.

Comrades, we Soviet Communists are sincerely gratified that in the struggle for a peaceful future and the progress of mankind we are advancing side by side with millions of our class brothers, with numerous contingents of the world Communist and working-class movement. Unswervingly loyal to the principle of proletarian internationalism, we regard with ardent sympathy and deep respect the struggle our foreign comrades are waging for the interests and rights of the working people and we see it to be our duty in every way to strengthen the bonds linking us.

This is what I would like to say today about the policy of our Party in international affairs. And we are confident that the Soviet people wholeheartedly and ardently support it.



The Soviet people inseparably link all their achievements with the activities of the Party. Selflessly devoted to the masses, the Party enjoys the full trust of the masses.

The review-and-election campaign has just ended in Party organisations. It again showed the high level of awareness and activity of Communists. Competent, experienced. and knowledgeable people have been elected to leading posts.

First secretaries of territorial and regional Party commit-tees are taking part in the proceedings of the plenary meeting. To you, comrades, I would like to make a special address. The Central Committee well knows how wide is the range of your obligations, of your concerns. It knows how much depends upon you in tackling our current, immediate and strategic tasks. The Political Bureau of the Central Committee is confident you will do everything necessary to secure stable growth rates of industrial production, to successfully implement the Food Programme, encourage greater labour efforts on the part of the masses, as well as implement measures directed at raising the people’s well-being, and thereby enhance the Party's vanguard role.

Any elective post in our Party is a post with responsibility. Election to a Party committee should be regarded as a kind of credit of confidence issued by Party members to their comrades. And this confidence must be justified by selfless work. Such is the mandate given by those participating in the meetings and conferences that have been held. Now, on the eve of elections to the USSR Supreme Soviet, the Party passes on this exacting mandate also to the Communists who have been nominated as candidates for Deputies, who will become members of the supreme body of state authority.

The inexhaustible strength of Soviet Communists lies in the cohesion of their ranks. This strength fully manifests itself when, as Lenin said, "all of us, as members of the Party, act as one man". The Leninist Central Committee of the CPSU, its leading core —the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, are acting precisely thus, in concord and unity. This makes it possible to adopt tested, thoroughly weighed decisions leading to consolidation of the alliance of the working class, farmers and intelligentsia, of the fraternal friendship of the peoples of the USSR.

The truly Party, businesslike and creative atmosphere, to the establishment of which Yuri Andropov devoted such great energies, has been and will be an essential condition of the work of the Party's Central Committee. This is the guarantee of the further growth of the CPSU's authority, of success in tackling the great and complex tasks of communist construction that face us.