Destinations Magazine

JFK Remembered in Russia

By Mendeleyeev


The following is an article from Russia-Direct, an English language publication:

On Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963, the Soviet newspaper headlines were catchy as usual: “Uzbek cotton growers set new record,” “Prepare now for spring,” and a report on a visit by then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to Iran. The news of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy was placed in the lower part of the front page, barely discernible from other international events.

However, the priority of local news over international was the norm for Soviet newspapers, and no one raised an eyebrow. But the Soviet reader, savvy at interpreting the meaning of political events from circumstantial signs, such as the arrangement of leaders atop Lenin’s Mausoleum during the May Day and Revolution Day parades, understood with just a casual glance at the seemingly inconspicuous column inches that the news from the U.S. had alarmed the Soviet leadership to an extraordinary degree.

Published under a portrait of Kennedy were the texts of telegrams of condolence from all the top leaders of the country — even one from Nina Khrushcheva, the wife of the First Secretary of the Communist Party, addressed to Jacqueline Kennedy. A few days later, the Soviet Union dispatched Khrushchev confidant Anastas Mikoyan to the funeral ceremony in Washington — the only socialist country to send a representative. Stories on Kennedy’s life and personality, and analyses of the circumstances of his death, were published daily in the newspapers until the spring of the following year, sometimes taking up several double-spreads.

Why did this U.S. president, who in fact clashed with Moscow more than any other, suddenly became a near icon, the embodiment of all things good and progressive in the eyes of the Kremlin? Did a handful of initiatives in the last months of his life really and so radically change the assessment of his personality in the Soviet Union?

There is more so read the entire article here.

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