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Why do Western news media appear so anxious to put Leonid Brezhnev in his grave? The poor health of the Soviet leader may be a legitimate subject for discussion of political succession in the Kremlin. But there is something tasteless and uncharitable in such headlines as ''Brezhnev's Final Days'' and ''When Will Brezhnev Meet His Maker?''

Surely the press can cover legitimate news without such callousness.

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