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General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: Wikis


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The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (post didn't exist in 1934-1952; named First Secretary in 1953-1965) was the title synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union after Joseph Stalin's consolidation of power in the 1920s.


In 1919 - 1922, the position of a Responsible Secretary (Russian: ответственный секретарь Otvetstvenny sekretar') was held by Yakov Sverdlov, Nikolay Krestinsky, Yelena Stasova, Vyacheslav Molotov; this position did not play any important role in the Party whose de facto leader was Vladimir Lenin; however, at lower levels responsible secretaries of regional and local party committees very often were top leaders of respective committees even before Stalin's rise to power.

The position of a General Secretary was originally an administrative one when it was created in 1922 with Joseph Stalin being the first to hold the title. Once Stalin came to dominate the Politburo, the position of General Secretary became synonymous with that of party leader and de facto ruler of the Soviet Union. Stalin proposed abolishing the post of General Secretary at the first Central Committee Plenum after the 15th Party Congress, on 19 December 1927. His proposal was defeated. No post of General Secretary formally existed after the 17th Party Congress of 1934. At the first Central Committee Plenum after each of the 17th, 18th and 19th Party Congresses (2 February 1934, 22 March 1939, and 16 October 1952 respectively) no confirmation of anyone as General Secretary took place. Rather, the Politburo, Secretariat, and Orgburo of the CC were elected, and Stalin was included in each. From 1934 on, Stalin increasingly preferred to sign documents as just "Secretary of the Central Committee" and there are no official references to the post between the XVIIth Party Congress and Stalin's death on 5 March 1953. However, Soviet encyclopediae of Stalin's time referred to Stalin as "General Secretary from 1922 till 1953".

When the leadership of the Central Committee was restructured at the time of Stalin's death, the office of the General Secretary briefly remained unoccupied, but two senior Politburo members, Georgy Malenkov (the new prime minister) and Nikita Khrushchev, were included in the Secretariat. On March 14, 1953, Malenkov was removed from the Secretariat, which left Khruschev in effective control of the body. Khrushchev was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee at a Central Committee Plenum on 7 September 1953. The 23rd Party Congress changed the Constitution ("Ustav") of the Party to include once again the position of General Secretary. Leonid Brezhnev was elected General Secretary on 8 April 1966, at the first Central Committee Plenum after this Congress.

Following the August 1991 Coup, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary. He was replaced by his deputy, Vladimir Ivashko, who only held the post for five days before the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union suspended all activities of the Communist Party on 29 August 1991.

List of General Secretaries

# Name Term start Term end Born Died
1 Joseph Stalin Joseph Stalin Colour.jpg 3 April 1922 5 March 1953 18 December 1878(1878-12-18) 5 March 1953 (aged 74)
2 Georgy Malenkov Malenkow.jpg 5 March 1953 13 March 1953 8 January 1902(1902-01-08) 14 January 1988 (aged 86)
3 Nikita Khrushchev Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B0628-0015-035, Nikita S. Chruchstschow.jpg 7 September 1953 14 October 1964 17 April 1894(1894-04-17) 11 September 1971 (aged 77)
4 Leonid Brezhnev Brezhnev-color.jpg 14 October 1964 10 November 1982 19 December 1906(1906-12-19) 10 November 1982 (aged 75)
5 Yuri Andropov Andropov1.jpg 12 November 1982 9 February 1984 15 June 1914(1914-06-15) 9 February 1984 (aged 69)
6 Konstantin Chernenko Konstantin Chernenko.jpg 13 February 1984 10 March 1985 24 September 1911(1911-09-24) 10 March 1985 (aged 73)
7 Mikhail Gorbachev Mikhail Gorbachev 1987.jpg 11 March 1985 24 August 1991 2 March 1931 (1931-03-02) (age 78)
8 Vladimir Ivashko Vladimir-Ivashko.jpg 24 August 1991 29 August 1991 28 October 1932(1932-10-28) 13 November 1994 (aged 62)

See also



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