She is called the very first of all the first ladies of the USSR - namely Nina Kukharchuk introduced a tradition among Kremlin wives to accompany her husband on trips abroad and appear with him in public. True, these appearances abroad in the 1960s. raised a fuss in the Western press, where the first lady of the USSR was called "Russian mother" or even "grandmother." Such publications, in which she is presented as a simpleton, often appear today. Of course, against the backdrop of Jacqueline Kennedy Khrushchev's wife did not look as glamorous and stylish, but journalists leave out of parentheses what she was guided by and what she really was.
The scandal erupted after Nikita Khrushchev and his wife arrived in Vienna in 1961, where negotiations with US President John F. Kennedy were planned. And while the leaders of the two states were discussing issues of global importance, the journalists were busy with completely different problems: they were assessing the appearance of the first lady of the USSR. An unprecedented noise arose in the Western media: photos with Nina Kukharchuk and Jacqueline Kennedy flew around the world, the spouses of the rulers of the two superpowers were on all the covers, journalists were exercising their wit, comparing the wives of Khrushchev and Kennedy. Nina Petrovna got unflattering epithets: her dress was called a dressing gown, she herself was criticized for her overweight figure, lack of hair, makeup and expensive jewelry. She was immediately dubbed a simpleton, "Russian mother" and "general grandmother."
The contrast in the appearance of the two first ladies was really striking, but the journalists did not take into account important details that would make you look at Nina Kukharchuk in a completely different way. Firstly, at that time she was twice as old as Jacqueline Kennedy - she was 60 years old. Secondly, her appearance was imprinted by the dramatic events that she had to endure, and the birth of four children, and her own beliefs, which guided her all her life.
Nina Kukharchuk was born into a poor peasant family with many children and from childhood was forced to work and do housework to help her parents. She graduated from the three classes of the village school, then studied at the gymnasium for another year when the First World War began. Only thanks to a happy coincidence of circumstances, the girl managed to complete her education at the Mariinsky Women's School, where the children of officials and clergy studied: the intercession of the commander of the unit where her father served, and the help of the bishop, helped. Nina graduated from 8th grade there and stayed to work as a secretary.
In 1920, Nina Kukharchuk joined the party and began campaigning for Soviet power in the villages. Soon she was assigned a department for working with women of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine and teaching at party schools. When they met Khrushchev, he already had one marriage and two children behind him. In 1924, their wedding with Nina took place, although they were not officially scheduled - the marriage was registered only in 1965. After that, she graduated from the Communist Academy. Krupskaya in Moscow, and then became a teacher of political economy at the Kiev party school.
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During the Second World War, in evacuation, Nina Petrovna graduated from English courses, she was also fluent in Ukrainian, Polish and French and was well versed in economics. The same foreign journalists who criticized her appearance noted that she communicated with the Americans without an interpreter, moreover, unlike her husband, she had good manners and knew how to maintain easy small talk.
Of course, she could afford both chic outfits and expensive jewelry. But this was not in her character, besides, there was an ideological background in her behavior: the wife of the general secretary of the party had to demonstrate to the people that she lives as simply as all other Soviet people, and not to flaunt her worth. In addition, she was brought up in such a way that social work was much more important to her than her own appearance. Therefore, even at a meeting with representatives of the Western political elite, Khrushchev's wife did not consider it necessary to wear expensive outfits and do hair and makeup. Do not forget about the difficult childhood and the peasant family in which Nina Kukharchuk grew up. Of course, Jacqueline Kennedy, who grew up in luxury, was her complete opposite and looked the same.
Hardly Western journalists in the 1960s. went into the details of the biography of Khrushchev's wife. Often they are forgotten by their domestic colleagues, presenting her as a simpleton and uncouth peasant. However, this can hardly be said about a woman who knew 5 languages and could maintain a conversation at political events. She tried to pass on her worldview and beliefs to the children: their daughter Rada graduated from school with a gold medal, studied at the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, and worked all her life in the journal Science and Life. The Khrushchevs' son Sergey made a scientific career, became a doctor of technical sciences. When his father was removed from office, he lost his job. In 1991 he was invited to the United States at Brown University to lecture on the history of the Cold War. There he stayed permanently.
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