It is reported that in his last years Stalin grew more and more feverishly suspicious of the men around him. Tonight's play opens in the fall of 1952, six months before the Soviet premier's death. On the eve of the 19th Communist Party congress, Stalin confides to his personal secretary Poskrebyshev his plan to centralize power even more completely in his own hands. He will abolish the Politburo, and replace it with a Presidium. This will be of such cumbersome dimensions that it will be virtually ineffectual. Then Stalin takes a further step to insure his control, he secretly records the conversations of his lieutenants. Beria, who eventually was executed by Stalin's successors, receives the first hint of his fall from favor when his portrait at the party congress is moved further down from its original position. Before long, others begin to realize that they too are being watched.moreless
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