MOSCOW, JULY 6 -- Galina Brezhnev, daughter of the former Soviet leader, has won a court case for the return of thousands of dollars in valuables, including a Mercedes Benz, a country house and a collection of stuffed animal skins, the daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported today.
The possessions were confiscated in 1988 when Brezhnev's husband, Yuri Churbanov, was convicted of bribery and sentenced to 12 years in a Soviet prison. Churbanov rose from police officer to senior party official after he met Galina, whose father, Leonid, was Communist Party general secretary. He died in 1982.
The Brezhnev era, now commonly referred to as a period of stagnation, is identified with bribe-taking, corruption and extravagant living by top officials. Leonid Brezhnev was known for his love of fast, foreign cars. He received several automobiles as gifts from visiting dignitaries, including former president Richard M. Nixon.
The case highlights a burning issue in contemporary Soviet politics: What kinds of property and revenues should belong to the ruling Communist Party and its officials and how they should be regulated. The issue is now being raised in Moscow at the 28th Communist Party Congress.
"The question remains as to why we have no laws which might have controlled the revenues of the then-general secretary and would qualify many things that happened under the system as criminal," the newspaper said.
The newspaper based its reporting on an interview with the judge, since the courtroom apparently was closed to the public.
Galina Brezhnev is thought of as a surviving symbol of her father's lavish lifestyle. In court, she argued that the confiscated goods, including a collection of weapons worth nearly $200,000, were gifts from either her father or her first husband and did not belong to Churbanov, the newspaper reported.
"My Mercedes . . . was a present to my father from some foreign statesman," Galina reportedly said in her testimony. "I have a driving license and I drove it. It wasn't my father's habit to give gifts to my husbands," she said.
The stuffed animal skins, possibly from Leonid Brezhnev's many hunting trips, were valued at 80,000 rubles ($128,000 at the artificially high official exchange rate), the newspaper said.
In addition to the car and gaming trophies, the court returned to Galina Brezhnev a collection of antique lamps and a summer home worth 64,000 rubles, the newspaper said.