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I don't think they were particularly unusual in that regard. At the time of Andropov, all the other nations with permanent membership on UN Security Council (USA, England, France, and China) were lead by WWII-era politicians. All were WWII veterans, with the obvious exception of Margaret Thatcher. The USA wouldn't get its first post WWII-generation ...


The correct question would be "Why the Chinese manage to change their leaders smoothly?" Lifetime leadership is typical for Communist dictators, not only in Soviet Union. Cuba, Yugoslavia, East Germany, Roumania,... you can continue yourself. The two leaders of Communist Russia who stepped down, Khrushchev and Gorbachev, stepped down as a result of coup ...

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