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Leadership is a risky business in the Soviet Union. Once out of the Kremlin, you never know what your place in history will be. But it looks as if Yuri Andropov wants to ensure that the Soviet pantheon contains no disgraced members. Word has it that he may be planning a rehabilitation of Nikita Khrushchev, that peppery-tongued leader who ended his career in official dishonor. For the first time since Khrushchev's ouster from power, a Soviet Communist Party periodical has acknowledged his role in the battle for Stalingrad in World War II.

Many Russians - and Westerners - might see justice in such a rehabilitation. Khrushchev, for all his unpredictability and antics, was the man who denounced and exposed Stalin, paving the way for an end of Stalinist terror and making life for ordinary Soviet citizens a bit more humane.

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