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On the morning of May 8, 1989, three dozen high-ranking Soviet KGB officers gathered in a spacious, gleaming Russian City Hotel ballroom, with the doors wide — the Soviet Union’s most exclusive gathering spot.
It was the Soviet Union’s Central Committee meeting, convened by the then-new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Founded in the 1850s by Alexander II of Russia, the Soviet party was the world’s oldest surviving political party.
The Kremlin’s Central Committee meeting, which saw the Soviet Union’s first direct talks with a communist party, was taking place at the behest of Gorbachev, the new Russian president.
At the last minute, a fourth member was added. The meeting’s organizer, Russian journalist Leonid Brezhnev, was brought in, but there was no announcement from the Politburo or top Soviet leaders.
That Thursday morning, in the presence of just 150 people, Gorbachev and Brezhnev had a private conversation. The two men met at Gorbachev’s vacation home in the remote Moscow countryside.
When Brezhnev walked in, Gorbachev was sitting in the corner of his study.
“You are not here in a state of mind to say something to me that would harm the party or the communist party,” Brezhnev told Gorbachev in his first attempt at informal discussion between leaders of two of the world’s two most powerful communist parties.
Brezhnev was in Moscow for the meeting. The KGB had told the Politburo that this is who the KGB wanted to see.
There may have been a brief glimpse into the kind of discussions that led to Brezhnev going to the Politburo that day.
One of the KGB officers who had been assigned to Brezhne