You also shouldn't take this report too literally, some predictions such as the food situation not improving didn't actually come to pass. So take it with a grain of salt.
Mao was definitely more reckless, Stalin more paranoid, and it makes sense that Stalin's position would be more secure barring an assassination or something.
Mao's China probably better described as a "cult of personality", perhaps closer to Lenin than Stalin as a starting place to draw distinctions.
The unredacted section reads are pretty neutral analysis, but you can see the section building. It opens with identifying that things are in flux, and a statement that western policy can likely influence soviet actions. I'd expect that to naturally lead into more detailed examinations, and open-ended but leading suggestions as to beneficial actions.
De-Stalinization was real and felt by the party
That is evidenced by the fact that the USSR had many, many more peaceful transfers of power than any dictatorship I can think of, and military/security service coups were always very unsuccessful. Ultimately this all comes from decentralization of power.
Saying the USSR had decentralized power is only true in a relative sense. What they actually had was a stable tripartite structure (security, military, party) where each 'leg' held a metaphorical gun to the head of the other two, but any two working in concert could take out the third. The party was the weakest of the three in terms of physical force but controlled promotions in the other two, the military had most of the big guns, and the security services watched and listened to everything and controlled information and movement. With a few extra checks and balances like political officers in the military, the whole thing was mostly stable even through transfers of political power, at the cost of periodic purges of the losers in power struggles (stable doesn't mean bloodless).
It's completely incorrect to say there was a tripartite structure - the party was in practice and in theory above the two other branches. The party routinely dictated to the security apparatus and the military, purged them, and so on, while the other two had so little power they saw the need to attempt coups which never came close to success.
Until ultimately a KGB agent took over and has been in power ever since.
However, you're completely glossing over why Western countries have such problems with Putin. Do you have evidence of the West "enforcing" their ideals with the Russian state? Because here are a list of practically doubtless examples of the Russian state actually being the one enforcing their ideals onto other states:
Poisonings / assassination attempts outside their borders
Election interference in the US and Europe
Nice turn of phrase!
This is true, but from what I hear this is mostly because he’s preferable than a power struggle between his oligarchs which is what people expect would happen in his absence.
Now, the reason the 90s were a disaster were not because Russia was a democracy, but nobody will take a foreigner making that argument seriously (and Putin can deal with locals making that argument).
Multiple poisonings / assassination attempts, even in the UK
I'd like to take a moment to point out that the people of any empire often see it's imperial ambitions in a positive light.
Dig just a bit, and you'll find Americans who thought Vietnam was a good idea, Frenchmen who thought Algiers was a good idea, Brits with Ireland and India, Argentinians with the Falklands, etc, etc, etc. They've all got a list of excuses as long as your arm for why they think so, and so do the Russians.
That being said, I still think Putin is an evil man. I just don't think he's really worse than, say, Bush, and I can understand while I massively disagree why so many Russians like him.
Au contraire, Bush is widely panned across the West, trust in or respect to the CIA is at an all time low, and most educated westerners acknowledge those examples as having been terrible ideas.
Election interference -- nobody engages in more election interference around the world than the U.S. Far beyond the scope of anything Russia has done.
Crimea -- they held a vote where like 95+ percent of residents voted to join Russia. So what's the problem?
Amazing how Andropov has stayed in power so long. The guy's 107 years old!
Only because 3 general secretaries kicked the bucket within 12 months of each others — it was a complete black swan event for the system. And the 4th one was the anomalous ascend of Gorbaczev, and the Elczin.
The later two were described as in one book I read as: "the constituent parts of factions in power were so preoccupied with fighting for the throne, that they never noticed how two grey suit career bureaucrats seized it just by following the formal procedure"
KGB, MVD, the army were self-convinced that Gorbaczev will never have enough power to act independently, and that at most he will be "a talking head on TV," while they do the real business from behind, and remove him in a few years time.
And Elczin was assumed to be "a complete nobody," and thus ignored altogether.
These people never believed in power of an individual ability, and brilliance. Their concept of power was the one which only comes with a lifelong pursuit of favours, connections, and coercive influence.
Beyond that, it's outright false that the KGB expected to take down Gorbachev. Gorbachev was more radical than expected, and Yeltsin had a lot of support throughout the party and military, including in the KGB outside the highest level.
If the military and KGB had both really fully turned against Gorbachev and Yeltsin there would be simply no way for them to resist. It's with support from the military and multiple KGB officiers that Yeltsin remained free.
And that's exactly how Yeltsin was able to do his own coup and subvert control of much of the military including nuclear weapons away from Gorbachev and then banned the CPSU.
I'm sure that the hundred of millions of dollars many of those anti-coup military members made under Yeltsin and the farce of Russian democracy was completely coincidental, though. Banning the only party that opposed you so they fragment into three and then appointing people loyal to you to all the media I'm sure was a legitimate mistake. It certainly would have nothing to do with a love of favours, coercive influence, and power.
I think it's all very simple, and clear how it came to CPSU collapse, and who was who at that time.
You know just as well as me that if the KGB was united and wanted him down and if the military did too he would have been imprisoned immediately.
It's also very clear to anyone that Yeltsin illegally took control of the Soviet military and was massively corrupt, just like anyone else. Your borderline heroic description of him is ahistorical, in reality he was just as much of a corrupt opportunist hungry for power and scheming as anyone else.