Kosygin steps aside

No basic changes in the Soviet economy can be expected following the resignation of veteran Premier Alexei Kosygin, one of the best-known Soviet leaders in the postwar era.

A fixture in the Kremlin for the past 40 years, Mr. Kosygin knew more about the huge economy than any other single figure in Moscow. But in recent years his health has been poor, and his duties had been increasingly carried out by deputies.

His dour face, familiar to newspaper readers and television watchers the world over, was last seen in public in Moscow Aug. 3.

The new Premier, Nikolai Tikhonov, is also in his late 70s, and is believed to be a loyal supporter of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Mr. Brezhnev himself announced Mr. Kosygin's resignation in Moscow Oct. 23, and it seemed as though Mr. Kosygin had stepped aside for genuine health reasons rather than for political ones.

Mr. Kosygin, from Leningrad, was promoted with meteoric speed in the late 1930s while those above him were being purged by Stalin. He became minister of light industry at the age of 39 just before the war.

By 1964, when Nikita Khrushchev was forced to step aside, Kosygin was well known as the country's No. 1 economic expert.

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