The assassination of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev

The assassination of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev

On January 22, 1969, the assassination of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow took place. It was a failed assassination attempt by Viktor Ilyin, a 20-year-old Russian from Leningrad.

The previous year (1968), Ilyin had been mobilized into USSR military units, and was reportedly dissatisfied with that. He was also disappointed by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, which also occurred in 1968. He stole two Makarov guns from a military unit, then fled the army (deserted). He came to Leningrad, where he stole a police uniform from his brother-in-law. Dressed in her, he appeared in Moscow in a parade involving then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and a whole host of Soviet cosmonauts.

At one of the entrances to the Kremlin, he was waiting for vehicles disguised as a police officer. The first vehicle, an open convertible with celebratory cosmonauts, missed, and then shot at an oncoming Zil sedan, thinking it contained Brezhnev. However, the enclosed vehicle contained the rest of the cosmonaut, including the famous Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman ever sent into space) and Alexei Leonov (the first man in history to walk in space).

Ilyin fired as many as 14 bullets, killing the driver of that limo. Fortunately, none of the cosmonauts were killed. Iljina was arrested and detained at the psychiatric hospital in Kazan, where he was detained for 20 years.

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