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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Troubled Life of a Party Secretary's Daughter

For MTA new television program, "Galina," shows how Brezhneva (Lyudmila Nilskaya) went from being the It Girl of her time, to dying in a psychiatric hospital.
The It Girl of her time, Galina Brezhneva took advantage of her father's position as party secretary to enjoy a lavish lifestyle. She wore designer outfits, traveled abroad and had a string of colorful love affairs. But her life ended in alcoholism and early death in a psychiatric hospital.

The extraordinary story of Brezhneva's life has been made into an eight-part drama series, which airs on Channel One from next Monday.

The producer, Alexei Pimanov, has made a series of documentaries on the Soviet period for the channel. The drama is based on interviews with Brezhneva's daughter, Viktoria, as well as with one of Brezhnev's security guards, Vasily Bronnikov, he said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"You need to try to understand her," Pimanov said. "We came to love Galya very much, even though we all understand that she was a very contradictory figure."

The first episode of the series shows Brezhnev bringing back a girlfriend from the front at the end of the war, although he later returned to his wife. "It was a key moment in Galina's life. She spent her whole life taking revenge for that moment," Pimanov said.

She eloped with an acrobat and then married a circus illusionist -- the latter for only nine days, since her father insisted on ending the marriage. Her last husband, a police officer, gained a high position in the Interior Ministry before being investigated by Yury Andropov and sent to a prison camp.

Brezhneva's drinking gradually got out of control and she ended up living in squalor. Eventually her own daughter, Viktoria Brezhneva, committed her to a psychiatric hospital, where she died in 1998.

Viktoria is played by an actress in the film, although she is still alive. Pimanov said Brezhneva's daughter had not seen the film but that viewers "wouldn't condemn her."

The drama switches between scenes in Brezhneva's early life and her incarceration in a psychiatric hospital -- actually filmed in a sanatorium. In her last months, she is shown with wild hair, disorientated and pleading to be allowed to go back to her father's dacha.

The actress who plays Brezhneva, Lyudmila Nilskaya, previously played the same character in a drama series titled "Red Square." She said she met friends and acquaintances of Brezhneva, including her manicurist, to prepare for the role.

"Galina" airs on Channel One from Monday, Sept. 22.