'Photogenic' Khrushchev reassessed in Moscow exhibition

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Nikita Khrushchev and His Time, which opened last week in Moscow's Manezh exhibition hall, is one of the largest exhibitions on the colourful Communist leader to be mounted in Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

Bald, stocky and famed for his peasant earthiness, Khrushchev is pictured in diverse settings ranging from Cold War summits with US president John Kennedy to casual days at home with his family.

"He was certainly photogenic," said Viktor Akhlomov, a veteran Russian photojournalist who took pictures of Khrushchev in the 1960s for the Izvestia newspaper, including some on display at the exhibition.

"He was a like an engine that powered itself. No matter how you photographed him, it always came out," Akhlomov, 71, recalled in an interview at the exhibition's opening.

Khrushchev went down in history as a reformer who denounced the crimes of his predecessor, dictator Joseph Stalin, and ushered in a brief period of liberalism in the early 1960s known as The Thaw.

But his years in power were also marked by erratic behaviour, including his risky decision to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, which provoked the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Khrushchev was ousted in 1964 by rivals within the Soviet leadership, after which he lived under house arrest until his death in 1971.

Descendants of Khrushchev who attended the exhibition's opening praised it as a fresh look at the leader, often derided in Russia for half-baked schemes such as his plan to plant corn across the Soviet Union...

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