Serye volki (The Gray Wolves) (1993)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Igor Gostev.

Starring:    Rolan Bykov  (Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchyov),  Aleksandr Belyavskiy  (Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev),   Lev Durov  (Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan),  Bogdan Stupka  (V.E. Semichastnyj),  Aleksandr Mokhov (Sorohin),  Aleksandra Zakharova  (Morino),  Aleksandr Potapov  (Sergei Khrushchyov),  Gennadi Sajfulin  (Molkov),  Vladimir Troshin  (N.V. Podgornyj),   Yevgeni Zharikov  (A. N. Shelepin),  Pyotr Velyaminov  (N. G. Ignatov),  Viktor Sergachyov  (M. A. Suslov),  Yuri Stoskov  (A. F. Ustinov),  Vladimir Samojlov (General Kurayev),  Yuri Volkov  (Professor Lopatin). 

power struggle; Nikita Khrushchev (in position1958-1964) and Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982)

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

 

Part One.

Moscow region.  Hunting Farm Zavidovo.  Khrushchev, Brezhnev and other powerful Soviet politicians are hunting wolves.  Khrushchev looks his wolf right in the eyes, but can't bring himself to shoot the animal.  Brezhnev shoots Khrushchev's wolf.   As the hunters return from their hunt in carriages drawn through the snow by horses, we are introduced to the hunter politicians. 

N. S. Khrushchev, secretary of CC CPSU.

N. V. Podgorny, member of the CC CPSU presidium.

L. I. Brezhnev, chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. 

A. I. Mikoyan, member of the CC CPSU presidium. 

A. N. Shelepin, CC SPSU secretary.

N. G. Ignatov, chairman of the RSFSR, Supreme Soviet presidium. 

V. E. Semichastny, chairman of the KGB, USSR, member of the CC CPSU. 

N. S. Khrushchev, autumn 1964, coup d'etat.

Brezhnev talks with other politicians about Khrushchev.  He says the man has insulted the party, cut down the army and cut down the pensions for military personnel.  Furthermore, according to D. F. Ustinov, chairman of the USNH USSR and member of the CC CPSU, Khrushchev is thinking of moving Brezhnev from the position of the chairman of the Supreme Soviet to the secretary assistant of the CC CPSU.  Brezhnev says that he would not let Khrushchev do that.  Ustinov tells Brezhnev that he knows he loves him, but Brezhnev is being a bit of an idiot.  He explains that the secretary assistant is the assistant (Khrushchev's position) when the assistant is always away on trips.  Last years Khrushchev spent 145 days abroad.  This is equivalent to four and a half months abroad.  Podgorny is at the meeting and agrees that they need to safe the country from Khrushchev. 

On a fishing trip Shelepin and Semichastny are listening in on the Brechnev conversation picked up via a "bug".  The two agree that it is they who need to safe the country, rather than Brezhnev and his crew. 

An agent in the counter-intelligence department, named Volody Sorokin, presents photos and other evidence of illegal activities among high-level politicians.  His boss tells him that the General will not be happy to see this. 

Khrushchev is with his son and complains to him that his heart hurts.  The son scolds him for drinking liquor with his medicine.  Khrushchev reminds his son:  "There are two opinions.  One is mine, the other one is stupid."  He also tells his son that:  "I can't be sick these days.  I can't die!"  This is due, he says, to everyone around him being scum, loafers or bureaucrats.  He says he will rule over these fellows through Brezhnev.  He says he just needs ten more years. 

In counter-intelligence, the news is that last night Col. Glushko shot himself.  Volody had worked under the man.  The boss, Gen. Kuraev, now tells Volody that he is to go on vacation. 

Volody watches out his window and sees two gunmen arriving outside.  This sets Volody into action as he grabs his equipment and leaves his apartment.  He goes up the stairs a ways.  He watches as the two gunmen knock on his door and, when there is no answer, they get into the apartment their own way.  Volody goes farther up the stairs. 

Brezhnev is telling farm jokes to his co-conspirators.  They are in a steam room.  Brezhnev talks with D. F. Ustinov who tells him that he needs to make a decision so they can get moving on their goal.  Brezhnev comments that Khrushchev is not simple, he just looks simple.  The man wrung the necks of Molotov, Beriya, Koganovich and Zhukov.  The guys start eating at the retreat.  Podgorny tells Brezhnev that all the northern committee secretaries are against Khrushchev  --  "the plenum will be ours."

Brezhnev tells Nikolay Grigoryevich Ignatov to check on Georgiy Vorobyov who is in the south of Krasnodar Territory.  Ignatov says that they need to check on Zarabyan too. 

Sergey Khrushchev comes in to speak with his father.  He says Professor Lopatin, an historian that did time in a labor camp, has come to see him.  Khrushchev does not really want to see the man, but he agrees to talk to him.  Lopatin tells Khrushchev that the top men in the KGB, behind his back, are doing some evil things.  They are, in fact, selling drugs.  These men have put their money in foreign investment banks.  Furthermore, they invest in western enterprises.  One of the men is Ibragimov, Mashitov's friend.  Where is the evidence, asks Khrushchev.  Lopatin says counter-intelligence has all the evidence.  As Lopatin goes on and on, Krushchev snaps at him:  "Stop it!"  He says that Lopatin, having been in the camps, has been turned into a cynic.  He says goodbye to Lopatin.  Lopatin is just speechless. 

Khrushchev calls Gen. Kuraev in counter-intelligence and asks him to tell him what's going on over there.  Kuraev says everything is going fine.  But what about the man who committed suicide?  The General says that the man had personal problems at home. 

Sochi (a resort city on the Black Sea, situated in Krasnodar Krai, Russia).  State residence of the CC CPSU.  Ignatov is talking with his assistant.  He asks the man who is on vacation now?  Zarabyan, the Armenian secretary and the secretaries of Kamchatka, Belgorod and Volhynia committees.  And Vorobyov from Krasnodar who arrives tomorrow. Ignatov says that they will speak with Zarabyan and Vorobyov. 

Brezhnev says to his co-conspirators that Khrushchev believes that his fellow politicians are all loafers or slackers.  And the man is a workaholic.  Ignatov says that the successor to Khrushchev will be either Podgorny or Brezhnev.  The time for the change will be November.  Ignatov's assistant tells him that Zarabyan is here.  Ignatov tells the assistant to tell him to wait and then tells Vorobyov that Zarabyan mustn't see them together.  Vorobyov leaves taking a different way out.

Volody burns through a lock using a flare device.  He gets on the roof of a building from where he can see Brezhnev talking with R. M. Mashitov.  Volody fires a listening device into the wood of the building.  He then listens into the conversation.  Brezhnev says the big change will be carried out in the November plenary session (when all members of all parties are to attend) without Khrushchev.  He adds that the whole Komsomol (the Communist Union of Youth) is with them.  He then tells Mashitov that he trusts him more than he trusts Shelipin or Semichastny.  Brezhnev tells Mashitov to keep an eye on the two men.  He finishes with:  "As for Nikita, we've got to take him out!" 

Zheleznovodsk. (a town in Stavropol Krai, Russia that is a vacation resort), the KGB state residence.  A guard says to comrade General that Alexander Nikolaevich is waiting for him.  The General goes inside and greets Sasha, who tells him that Khrushchev has decided to vacation in Pitsunda (a resort town on the Black Sea in Gagra district of Abkhazia).  The General says:  "I think Lyonya is gonna' appreciate this."  This makes Sasha mad and he says that Brezhnev is a temporary figure.  Sasha then tells the General to make sure to cut off all communications to and from Pitsunda when Khrushchev is there. 

From a telephone booth on the street, Volody calls A. I. Adzhubev, the editor-in-chief of Izvestiya and a member of the CC CPSU, as well as Khrushchev's son-in-law.   He tells the editor that he is calling from counter-intelligence.  He says:  "A coup d'etat is being prepared against your father-in-law."  He goes on to say that Semichastny is part of the conspiracy and that he has evidence because he has a tape from one of Brezhnev's conspiratorial meetings.  Just then a car comes driving by the telephone booth and a man with an automatic weapon tries to shoot Volody dead.  The assassination attempt fails and Volody is able to ire several shots at the car carrying the would-be assassin.  

Col.-Gen. Vladimir Efimovich asks Tolya:  Who let you bug Brezhnev's flat?  The Col.-General says he knows that someone from his office bugged the flat.  He adds that he thinks there is complete chaos in olya's department.  The Col.-General then asks if it was Volody Sorokin?  Tolya says Sorokin went on vacation and never came back.  The General tells Tolya that he will get a reprimand and that he better find Sorokin.  And, finally, he tells Tolya to get out of his office. 

Col.-General Efimovich calls Sasha.  He tells him that Adzhubev has some information.  Sasha tells him not to worry, because the editor won't say anything.  Adzhubev wants to be Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

Malkov, from Ignatov's guard, calls Khrushchev at home and Khrushchev's son, Sergey Nikitch, answers.  Malkov says that there is a conspiracy against Sergey's father.  Sergey says the Malkov should report this to the head of his department.  Malkov responds that he can't because Semichastny is part of the conspiracy.  He asks Sergey to meet him face to face.  Malkov stands on a corner and Sergey picks him up.  They decide to go to a forest where they cannot be taped. 

Khrushchev returns from the Ural Mountains.  His son tells him about the conspiracy, but dad just says:  "It's nonsense!  It is impossible!"  Who is involved in the conspiracy?  Ignatov, Podgorny, Brezhnev, Semichastny and Shelepin.  Dad just doesn't believe it.  Kruschchev tells his son to introduce Malkov to A. I. Mikoyan.  They have Mikoyan's office bugged. 

Malkov speaks with Mikoyan with Sergey present.  Mikoyan has Sergey write down what Malkov says. 

Malkov speaks with Sergey and says that Mikoyan didn't believe him

Volody jumps off the train trying to get away from the two men following him.  The two men stop the train and jump off.  Volody is able to jump onto another train and then later gets on an airplane. 

Moscow.  Airport Vnukova-2, October 2, 1964.  Khrushchev is at a big feast before he gets on an airplane.  The conspirators are there with him.  All of a sudden Khrushchev mentions that he has heard that Brezhnev and the others are going to get rid of him in November.  The conspirators are shocked to say the least.  One asks Khrushchev who is telling him these crazy things?  But Brezhnev says that Khrushchev is just joking with them.  Where is everyone's sense of humor?  Khrushchev gets on the plane headed to Pitsund. 

Brezhnev and Col.-General Efimovich  talk together.  Brezhnev wants to know where Khrushchev got his information about the November showdown.  Brezhnev has his doubts about Efimovich and even asks him:  "Are you with us?"  Yes, says Efimovich.  He tells Brezhnev not to worry because they know where the information came from. 

Sergey calls Malkov's place, but there is no answer.  Malkov is dead. 

 

Part Two.

Volody is with a pretty blonde named Marina laying on the beach.  Marina tells him:  "You always look for me when you feel bad." 

Sergey speaks with Mikoyan and gives him a summary of the conversation he had with Malkov.  The cautious Mikoyan has Sergey sign the report.

Volody asks the naked Marina (brief nudity) to marry him in November.  She asks him why he chose November for the wedding?  Volody says that it's autumn and they will have an autumn wedding. 

In Pitsund, Mikoyan and Sergy are with Khrushchev.   Mikoyan says that a cosmonaut in a rocket was launched, but it's strange that Nikita did not get any confirmation telephone call.  Khrushchev starts to wonder too and he tries to call Kosygin.  He is not available.  Then Nikita calls comrade Smirnov at the rocket launch site.  He asks him why didn't he report the launch to him?  Smirnov says that he didn't have the time.  This really angers Khrushchev and he balls the man out.  Disgusted, Khrushchev takes a walk by himself.

Marina runs naked (breief nudity) along the beach.  She comes over to Volody and he tells her that they should go on a pre-wedding trip to Pitsunda.  Marina agrees to go with him. 

Barvikha (a village in the Odintsovsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia that is the site of the Barvikha Sanatorium, the health resort of the President of Russia).  Brezhnev's residence.  Brezhnev talks with M. A. Suslov, member of the CC CPSU presidium.  When the man hears about the conspiracy he asks Brezhnev what are they doing because that could result in civil war.  R. Y. Malinovskiy, Minister of Defense and member of the CC CPSU tells Suslov that there will be no civil war. 

Someone says they have to move before the cosmonaut returns to earth.  They all agree that Brezhnev should meet the cosmonaut, not Khrushchev.  Now the bad news is delivered to Suslov.  They want him to call Khrushchev to tell him to come to the CC CPSU presidium.  Suslov asks, why me?  Because Suslov is Khrushchev's old companion-in-arms.  But others do wonder why shouldn't Brezhnev call Khrushchev because Brezhnev has the most powerful position of any of the conspirators.  Brezhnev tells them no and when they press him, he gets angry and says:  "I said no!"

So Suslov calls Khrushchev.  Khrushchev is happy to hear from Suslov and says that he is on holiday.  Suslov asks him to come and Nikita agrees  -- he'll come. 

Khrushchev tells Mikoyan that they decided to hold a plenary session.  But Khrushchev realizes that they have nothing to discuss.  His suspicions of intrigue are confirmed when he sees two naval ships nearby. 

Volody packs the car with their stuff. He then tells Marina if something should happen to him, he wants her to take the package he has (holding the Brezhnev tape) and go to the state residence.  And she must make sure the package gets to Col. Litovchenko, chief of the guard.  Marina starts to get very worried and her eyes water up.  She starts crying.  He tries to console her.  He says he is going to go diving.  Marina tells him that there is air enough for only ten minutes. He says he won't be long.  Unbeknownst to him, there are already in the water two assassins in scuba gear.  Marina sees some funny movements along the water's surface.  She then sees Volody come up out of the water, but grabbing him is one of the would-be assassins.  The two men go under the water and Marina watches as there is a struggle and then the water starts turning red with blood. 

When Marina sees the scuba divers coming toward the beach, she gets scared, gets in her car and drives away.  One of the scuba divers alerts one of their men in a truck alongside the highway and gives him the information needed to stop Marina's car.  Marina goes past the truck and the truck starts following her.  There is a chase scene.  Marina goes off road to try to get away from the truck.  She comes back onto the main road and passes by another truck coming onto the highway.  She gets past the second truck, but the first truck now crashes into the second truck.  The first truck explodes in flames.  Marina gets away.

Khrushchev calls the Minister of Defense Malinovskiy.  He reminds the Minister of Defense that he saved him from Stalin back in 1942.  Then he says he is going to need the Defense Minister's military forces.  But Malinovskiy shocks Khrushchev when he says that he can have the forces only if this is approved by the plenary session.  Khrushchev is furious.  Now he calls Peter Koshevoy.  He says he needs his help, but wonders if Peter has to have the approval of the plenary session?  Peter says of course not.  A happy Khrushchev tells Peter that he might call him tomorrow in regards to his forces.  As Khrushchev gets off the phone, the spot light from one of the ships flashes back and forth onto Khrushchev's place of residence. 

Brezhnev calls the Col.-General and the military man tells Brezhnev about Minister of Defense Malinovskiy.  After the call, the Col.-General tells his assistant Major Sukhov to go to Kiev and take Koshevoy under his supervision. 

Marina makes a stop to take a break and eat something.  She sits in a picnic area to eat her food.  She sees two men arrive who seem overly interested in her car.  Marina starts running away from them.  She gets on a bus.  The men looking for her can't find her.  They decide to wait for the blonde to show up at her car. 

Marina travels to the state residence.  A three car convoy arrives.  Marina asks for Litovchenko and finds him on her first try.  She gives him the tape.  Then she leaves.

Marina comes back to the parking lot to get her car.  She carefully looks around, but sees nothing suspicious.  She gets in her car and starts to drive away.  She doesn't go far when an explosion from a car bomb completely destroys her car and kills her.

Pitsunda.  Khrushchev's residence.  October 13.  Khrushev receives the tape.  He listens to it and hears the conversation between Brezhnev and Mashitov.  Khrushchev is furious about what he hears.  He pounds his fist on the table.  He then gives the tape to Mikoyan to listen to.  After Mikoyan listens to the tape, he goes to speak with Khrushchev, who tells Mikoyan that his enemies have disconnected him from communications with others.  Khrushchev says sadly:  "This is my fault.  I relaxed my vigilance."  Bu then he comes back with an "I'll show them" and they will regret this.  "I can't submit."

Mikoyan tells Khrushchev to calm down.  He asks the angry man if he is going to go to Moscow or Kiev (the latter place to fight for control of the Soviet Union).  Khrushchev says he's going to Moscow because what else can he do?  Mikoyan then tries to hug the upset man, but Khrushchev just pushes him away and walks alone for awhile.  Khrushchev sits down on a bench and cries.  Mikoyan calls Brezhnev and tells him that they are safe from a threat from Kiev. 

The Col.-General meets Khrushchev at the airport in Moscow.  Khrushchev asks why so few people came to meet him?  The answer is that they are all waiting for Khrushchev at the Kremlin.  Khrushchev seems a bit taken aback and asks:  "Waiting? . . . Let's go then."  He gets in the car and the 9 car convoy leaves the airport. 

Breshnev and his co-conspirators are now back at the steam baths.  They are celebrating their victory and doing a lot of laughing. 

There's a scene of six wolves in the snow running.  At the Kremlin, bells are ringing.   

Most of the conspirators lost their positions, but Brezhnev did very will for himself. 

 

 

The movie is all about the conspiracy to oust Khrushchev from office.  It is not an easy film to follow because there are a lot of different characters and trying to remember all the names is a bit difficult.  And remember, these are those long Russian names where at times they use the first and middle name without the last name and it's easy sometimes to think the middle name is the last name.  What I'm saying is that I might have made a mistake(s) on some of the names.  But I'm satisfied that I understood the movie and have presented a reasonable summary. 

The spellings of the names I took from the subtitles.  Sometimes they don't match the Russian spellings of the names in the credits.

Nevertheless, it's good to have a film involving Khrushchev and Brezhnev. 

Apparently, there was widespread agreement in the Soviet Union that Khrushchev had become a problem for the government and the people of the Soviet Union.  This made the conspiracy a successful one, as it had backing from the major political players in the country.  And Khrushchev did goof up by refusing to believe or even check on the reports coming in of the conspiracy against him.  By the time he finally realized what was happening, it was already too late. 

The fellow who played Khrushchev was good, but he was much shorter than any other male in the film..

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 


Historical Background:

 

until 1962 – Khrushchev's position as Party leader was secure. As Khrushchev aged, he became more erratic and the Soviet economy got much worse. This undermined the confidence in Khrushchev once held by his fellow leaders.

1963 – Brezhnev becomes involved in a plot to remove Khrushchev from power.

1963 – Brezhnev replaces Frol Kozlov, a Krushchev protégée, as Secretary of the Central Committee. His means he is Khrushchev's likely successor.

1964 – Khrushchev makes Brezhnev deputy party leader.

1964 (January-September)  --  Khrushchev is absent from Moscow for a total of five months

1964 (March) – Supreme Soviet head Leonid Brezhnev begins talking about Khrushchev's removal with his colleagues.

1964 (June) – Khrushchev returns from a trip to Scandinavia. Brezhnev had thought of having him arrested at this time. But Brezhnev spend a lot of time persuading members of the Central Committee to support an ouster of Khrushchev.

The main conspirators are:

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  --   full member of the Politburo in 1957;  Second Secretary of the Central Committee in 1959;  from 1960 (May) he is the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

Aleksandr Shelepin  --  a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its Politburo.

Vladimir Semichastny  --  KGB Chairman.

1964 (October) – Khrushchev goes on vacation to Pitsunda, near the Black Sea.  After Khrushchev’s return, Anastas Mikoyan hints to Khrushchev that he shouldn’t be so complacent about his present situation.

1964 (October 12) – Mikhail Suslov phones Khrushchev to request that he return to Moscow to discuss the state of Soviet agriculture.

Finally, Khrushchev realizes that there is a plot to get rid of him. He flies to Moscow and is attacked by Brezhnev and other Presidium members for his policy failures and his erratic behavior. Khrushchev puts up little resistance.  He says to Mikoyan: "If it's me who is the question, I won't make a fight of it."

Brezhnev and Nikolay Podgorny appeal to the Central Committee against Khrushchev. They blame the man for economic failures. They also accuse him of voluntarism and immodest behavior.

Members of the Politburo vote to remove Khrushchev from office.

1964 (October 14)  --  the Presidium and the Central Committee vote to accept Khrushchev's "voluntary" retirement.

A new government is put into office:

Brezhnev is the Party First Secretary;

Alexei Kosygin is the head of government; and

Mikoyan is the head of state.

Khrushchev got a pension and lived comfortably, but he fell into a deep depression.  He wrote his memoirs and died in 1971. 

 

 

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