But a Brezhnev? In the wild? Now there’s a real rarity. But there he was, striding casually down the street in downtown Novorossiysk. So I nabbed him.
This isn’t the doddering, geriatric Brezhnev of the 1980s. This is the rising apparatchik, posed with a hint of rebellious informality, a loosened tie and a jacket casually slung over one shoulder. Not the wooden politburo veteran, but the younger man-of-the-people getting ready to grab power. The Brezhnev who recklessly sped in (and sometimes crashed in) high-end foreign cars.
The most amazing thing about the statue is that it was erected in 2004, long after the fall of the USSR, paid for by local public contributions.
Why does Novorossiysk love Leonid Brezhnev so? Well, Brezhnev liked to emphasize his heroic war record, centered on the Northern Caucasus, including Novorossiysk. As Brezhnev rose in power, so did his remembered heroism and so did the remembered importance of (among others) the heroic battle of Novorossiysk. And so in 1973 Novorossiysk was awarded the prestigious Soviet title of “Hero City”, one of only a dozen such. And the citizens are no doubt grateful for this favor.