By Mark Galeotti (auth.)
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Brezhnev's 1982 Food Programme was just one such hotch-potch, and Gorbachev pointedly distanced himself from it, realizing full well it would be ineffective. Instead, he was at least able to begin to ask the right questions, especially on the whole issue of providing greater incentives for farmers to produce. As soon as Andropov was in power, he turned to Gorbachev. First he broadened the younger man's portfolio to include a wider range of domestic issues and then he began involving him in foreign affairs.
Andropov - like Gorbachev after him was to come to power knowing that there was a problem which needed to be addressed, but with little real notion of how. ' After all, this was at the heart of Andropov's task. He did not want to shake up the existing political system and above all the position of the CPSU. Quite the opposite, he wanted to shore it up by revitalising the Soviet economy and weeding out those members whose obvious misuse of their positions were bringing the Party into disrepute. To do this, though, he needed people who could come up with new ideas, who were prepared to implement them, who had largely avoided the Brezhnevite orgy of corruption and who could carry on his work during his months of illness and after his death.
Even he, though, was allowed to retire gracefully in 1972 and accept a hefty pension. Rytov, though, was publicly tried and then executed. What is more, the investigations did not simply use him as a scapegoat. They led to the enforced retirement of Fisheries Minister Ishkov and eventually the downfall of Sergei Medunov, Party Secretary of the Krasnodar region on the Black Sea coast and a close friend of Brezhnev's. It was clear that this new anti-corruption campaign was not just another empty propaganda exercise.