A new-old editor for Soviet paper

The first post-Brezhnev change of a top figure in the official Soviet news media has a sense of deja vu about it. The editorship of the government newspaper Izvestia has been returned to Lev Tolkunov, who ran the paper for most of Leonid Brezhnev's tenure as Soviet leader, Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports. The shift, disclosed Thursday to Western reporters, seems in keeping with the generally cautious pattern of personnel shuffles since Yuri Andropov succeeded Mr. Brezhnev in November.

Mr. Tolkunov worked with the inner Secretariat of the Communist Party Central Committee in the late 1950s and early '60s, when Mr. Andropov was there as well.

After heading Izvestia from 1965 to 1976, Tolkunov left to run the Soviet news agency Novosti - specializing in disseminating official opinion for audiences abroad. He became a member of the Central Committee, although, officials suggest, he had considerably less direct input into the workings of the committee Secretariat. As Izvestia chief, he will once again attend the Secretariat's regular weekly meetings.

In an interview with the Monitor last year Mr. Tolkunov seemed an articulate and discerning spokesman for Soviet policy, although at times he was more rhetorical than various younger Soviet officials interviewed.

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