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Andropov a vodka man

HAMBURG, West Germany -- Kremlinologists take note: Soviet leader Yuri Andropov does not drink Scotch.

Andropov prefers the national Russian drink, vodka, or brandy, according to an interview with the Soviet leader published by the West German magazine Der Spiegel today.

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After Andropov succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as Communist Party chief in November, Western specialists on the Soviet Union admitted they did not know too much about the personal tastes of the former KGB boss.

Some portraits of the new Soviet leader suggested he was an urbane man who enjoyed jazz, drank Scotch and spoke English fluently.

Andropov :leared up some of the mystery about his personal habits in his interview with Der Spiegel editor Rudolf Augstein. It was believed to be Andropov's first informal give-and-take with a Western journalist.

Andropov said that contrary to Western reports, he does not play tennis.

'Then it's easier to give it up,' he joked with Augstein.

Andropov said he liked classical music and his favorite piece was Beethoven's 'Pathetique Sonata.'

He said favorite Russian composers were Tschaikovsky, Rimski-Korsakov and Prokoviev.

'Of the modern composers, I love Sviridov,' he said. 'He is a very interesting composer.'

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Der Spiegel said Andropov does not prefer Western drinks to Russian drinks, but likes to drink vodka or brandy in limited quantities.

Augstein, who chatted with the Soviet leader for an hour, said Andropov :ould speak English and appeared to understand a little German.

'I found him in fine spirits and good health,' said Augstein. 'He has the hands of a 68-year-old ... he is very short-sighted, but he seeks eye contact when he is speaking.'

Augstein said Andropov was 'the first communist leader since the invention of the tape recorder' who could speak freely and undisturbed into the machine.

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