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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 Unionmarker after Joseph Stalin's consolidation of power in the 1920s.


In 1919 - 1922, the position of a Responsible Secretary ( 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 Unionmarker. 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 3 April 1922 5 March 1953
2 Georgy Malenkov 5 March 1953 13 March 1953
3 Nikita Khrushchev 7 September 1953 14 October 1964
4 Leonid Brezhnev 14 October 1964 10 November 1982
5 Yuri Andropov 12 November 1982 9 February 1984
6 Konstantin Chernenko 13 February 1984 10 March 1985
7 Mikhail Gorbachev 11 March 1985 24 August 1991
8 Vladimir Ivashko 24 August 1991 29 August 1991

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