March 23 in Russian history

1935: USSR sells the Chinese Eastern Railway (Kitayskaya Vostochnaya Zheleznaya Doroga, KVZhD) to the government of Manzhouguo. The railway was built in 1897-1901. It was a shortcut which started from near Chita and led to Vladivostok via Harbin. The main way, Trans-Siberian railway, made a huge bent skirting the Chinese border along Amur. After the WWI, since 1924, the railway belonged to both USSR and China. When the Japanese occupied Manchuria and formed the puppet Manzhouguo state, the constant provocations and the refusal of Japan to sign a non-aggression pact with the USSR made the Soviets to sell the KVZhD to the government of Manzhouguo in 1935. After the liquidation of Manzhouguo in 1945, USSR and China once again became co-owners of KVZhD. In 1952, after the Communist revolution in China, KVZhD was handed over to the new Chinese friends of the USSR for free.

1982: In 1982, Leonid Brezhnev awarded the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic with the order of Lenin, the highest award of the USSR. He arrived to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan and planned to visit the Tashkent aviation plant. He was tired though after the first days, the program of the visit was very dense and it was decided to cancel the visit to the plant. In the morning Brezhnev visited a textile factory and a tractor factory and the cavalcade was returning to the residence when Brezhnev looked at his watches and said: "We've got some free time. We promised to visit the factory. The people there must be waiting for us. No good. There'll be questions, rumours... Let's go there."

Rashidov, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, agreed and, in spite of objections of Brezhnev's chief security officer Ryabov, turned towards the aviation plant. Indeed, thousands of people gathered and were waiting for their arrival. There were so many people that many of them climbed the scaffolds surrounding the airplanes. When Brezhnev passed under the airplane's wings, people gathered on one side of the scaffolds and struts broke. A huge wooden platform, about 50 meters long and 4 meters wide, fell on the general secretaries and their retinue. Some guards who were not struck by the debris, picked the platform and held it for two minutes while the people were getting from under it.

Brezhnev's collarbone was broken and his ear was slightly damaged. Doctors demanded that he should return to Moscow immediately, but he refused. During the next two days, he participated in the celebrations, even though he looked ill. His speech was slow, movements were limited and it looked like he had a hangover. The research in Moscow proved that the bone was displaced, but the doctors were not sure if 75 years old Brezhnev will survive the surgery. The collarbone remained broken till his death half a year later.

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