Stalin was succeeded by a collective leadership after his death in 1953. The central Soviet strongmen at the time were Lavrentiy Beria (in charge of the Ministry of the Interior), Nikita Khrushchev (First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party), and Georgi Malenkov (Premier of the Soviet Union).
De-Stalinization spelled an end to the role of large-scale forced labor in the economy. The process of freeing Gulag prisoners was started by Beria, but he was soon removed from power. Khrushchev then emerged as the most powerful Soviet politician.
At a speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences to the closed session of the Twentieth Party Congress of the CPSU, February 25, 1956, Khrushchev shocked his listeners by denouncing Stalin's dictatorial rule and cult of personality. He also attacked the crimes committed by associates of Lavrentiy Beria.
Beyond Moscow-centric interpretation: an examination of the China connection in Eastern Europe and North Vietnam during the era of De-Stalinization.
Dec 01, 2004; The De-Stalinization process and the subsequent liberalization in the mid-1950s was a phenomenon of global communism....