Nikolay Shvernik

Nikolay Mikhailovich Shvernik (Никола́й Миха́йлович Шве́рник) (1888 – 1970) was the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (or President of the USSR) from March 19, 1946 until March 15, 1953. Though the titular head of state Shvernik, in fact, had little power as the real authority lay with Joseph Stalin as General Secretary of the Communist Party.

Shvernik joined the Bolsheviks in 1905. In 1924 he became a People's Commissar in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and became a full member of the Central Committee of the party in 1925. In 1927 he was demoted and sent to the Urals to head the local party organization. Stalin found him a loyal supporter of his policy of rapid industrialisation and moved him back to Moscow in 1929 making him chairman of the Metallurgist Trade Union. He resumed his rise in the party becoming a member of the Orgburo and the party Secretariat. He also served as first secretary of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions from July 1930 to March 1944.

During the Second World War Shvernik was responsible for evacuating Soviet industry away from the advancing Wehrmacht. He was Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR 1943 - 1946. In 1946 he became Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR succeeding Mikhail Kalinin. He only became a member of the Party Presidium (formerly the Politburo) in 1952 but was demoted in 1953 when the body was reduced in size.

Following the death of Stalin, Shvernik was removed as titular president of the USSR and replaced by Kliment Voroshilov on March 15, 1953. Shvernik returned to his work as the chairman of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. In 1956, after his work in the Pospelov Commission, which was the basis of Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" denouncing Stalinism, Khruschev recommended Shvernik for the post of chairman of the Party Control Committee and later put him in charge of rehabilitating the victims of Stalin's purges (Shvernik Commission). In 1957, Shvernik again became a full member of the Presidium and remained on the body until he retired in 1966.

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