MOSCOW — Soviet citizens lined up in freezing temperatures today to view the body of President Konstantin U. Chernenko, and soldiers chipped ice from gutters and scrubbed streets and sidewalks to prepare for his funeral.
The portrait of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, 54--chosen to succeed the 73-year-old Chernenko as Communist Party chief only four hours after the death announcement--dominated morning editions of the national Soviet newspapers, adding to the air of briskness that surrounded the swiftest transition in Soviet history.
Chernenko's photo was on the second pages. Starting with Vladimir I. Lenin in 1924, the death of a Soviet leader had been reported on the front page of every Soviet newspaper. Dailies like Pravda, the party organ, bordered the page in black and ran quarter-page photographs of the dead ruler.
This time, Chernenko's picture was on the second page, and it was half the customary size. Every newspaper ran a lead story on the front page announcing his death, but the rest of the front pages were devoted to Gorbachev, including a portrait and a story on the plenum at which he was formally named general secretary.