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Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The Politburo (in Russian: Политбюро, full: Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, abbreviated Политбюро ЦК КПСС), known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, functioned as the central policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The body was made up of the top members of the Central Committee. In theory, it acted as the political bureau (hence Politburo) of the Central Committee, elected by them to direct the Party between the sessions of the committee and with a mandate that only covered the Party. The Politburo was responsible to, and its membership was subject to, the approval of the Central Committee.

In reality, the Politburo oversaw the operations of the Committee and made all major policy decisions, which it then passed down through the Central Committee, the Supreme Soviet and the Party Congress. Its control extended from the Party and into government because Party personnel held all key government posts and party discipline therefore ensured that Politburo policy was implemented by all government organizations. One example of the Central Committee overruling the Presidium (as the Politburo was known) was the defeat of the so-called Anti-Party Group in 1957.

Lenin set up a political bureau in 1917 specifically to direct the Revolution, but this precursor did not outlast the event; the Central Committee continued with the political functions. However, due to practical reasons, usually less than half of the members attended the regular Central Committee meetings during this time, even though they decided all key questions.

The Eighth Party Congress in 1919 formalized this reality and re-established what would later on become the true center of political power in the Soviet Union. This new Political Bureau, which decided on questions too urgent to await full Central Committee deliberation, originally consisted of 5 full members: Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Lev Kamenev and Nikolai Krestinsky.

Although, in theory, the Politburo was elected from below, in practice, the leading members of the Politburo and, of course, Lenin were highly influential in determining the body's composition which, in the end, reflected the weight and competing influence of various individuals within the party, their allies within the Politburo and supporters outside of it.

Under Stalin the processes under which the leadership of the party was determined became an entirely hierarchical matter with the General Secretary (i.e. Stalin) determining the composition of the Central Committee and even that of the Politburo rather than the reverse. After Stalin's death the authority of the General Secretary waxed and waned to various degrees and the composition of the Politburo again became a matter of shifting alliances among leading members and interest groups within the party, at least until a General Secretary was able to consolidate his position.

The Politburo had both full and candidate (non-voting) members. The actual size of the Politburo varied, but it usually consisted of fourteen full and eight candidate members. Although it had no formal head, the General Secretary of the Party, who was also often head of the Central Committee, always played the leading role. In practice the most powerful Politburo members also had membership of the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee, the General Secretary leading of this group. Those who had seats on only one of these two bodies had less influence. Only a few women ever became members of the Politburo.

In order to minimize personal clashes and avoid factionalism there was a convention of procedure which mandated that strong criticisms be circulated beforehand to avoid conflict during actual meetings.

In 1990, the 28th Party Congress agreed to transfer the powers of the Politburo to Parliament, and the Politburo ceased to exist in August 1991.

See also Organization of the Communist Party of the USSR

Politburo/Presidium membership

All names of Politburo members in boldface. All elections to and removals from the Politburo were by vote of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party, unless otherwise specified.

Date Comments
23 October 1917 Andrei Bubnov, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Vladimir Lenin, Grigory Sokolnikov, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky elected members of the Political Bureau at the Central Committee meeting.
November 7, 1917 The Bolshevik Revolution in Petrograd; the Political Bureau ceases to function. Central Committee members (August 1917 to 5 March 1918, between the 6th and 7th congresses): Artyom (Sergeyev), Berzin, Bubnov, Bukharin, Dzerzhinsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Kollontay, Krestinsky, Lenin, Milyutin, Muranov, Smilga, Sokolnikov, Stalin, Trotsky, Uritsky and Shaumyan. Candidate members: Dzhaparidze, Ioffe, Kiselyov, Lomov (Oppokov), Preobrazhensky, Skrypnik, Stasova, and Yakovleva.

Central Committee members (8 March 1918 to 17 March 1919, between the 7th and 8th congresses): Artyom, Bukharin, Vladimirsky, Dzerzhinsky, Zinoviev, Krestinsky, Lashevich, Lenin, Sverdlov, Smilga, Sokolnikov, Stalin, Stasova, Trotsky, Shmidt. Candidate members: Berzin, Ioffe, Kiselyov, Lomov (Oppokov), Petrovsky, Stuchka, Uritsky, and Shlyapnikov.

25 March 1919 Kamenev, Nikolai Krestinsky, Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky elected full members; Nikolai Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Mikhail Kalinin elected candidate members.
July–September 1919 Yelena Stasova, chief secretary of the Central Committee, temporarily joined the Politburo from July to September 1919, per an agreement between the Politburo and the Orgburo,
5 April 1920 Kamenev, Krestinsky, Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky elected full members; Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Kalinin elected candidate members.
16 March 1921 Zinoviev, Kamenev, Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky elected full members; Bukharin, Kalinin, and Vyacheslav Molotov elected candidate members.
3 April 1922 Zinoviev, Kamenev, Lenin, Alexei Rykov, Stalin, Mikhail Tomsky, and Trotsky elected full members; Bukharin, Kalinin, and Molotov elected candidate members.
26 April 1923 Zinoviev, Kamenev, Lenin, Rykov, Stalin, Tomsky, and Trotsky elected full members; Bukharin, Kalinin, Molotov, and Yan Rudzutak elected candidate members.
21 January 1924 Lenin dies.
2 June 1924 Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, Stalin, Tomsky, and Trotsky elected full members; Felix Dzerzhinsky, Kalinin, Molotov, Rudzutak, Sokolnikov, and Mikhail Frunze elected candidate members.
31 October 1925 Frunze dies.
1 January 1926 Bukharin, Kliment Voroshilov, Zinoviev, Kalinin, Molotov, Rykov, Stalin, Tomsky, and Trotsky elected full members; Dzerzhinsky, Kamenev, Grigory Petrovsky, Rudzutak, and Nikolai Uglanov elected candidate members.
20 July 1926 Dzerzhinsky dies.
23 July 1926 Zinoviev relieved of duties; Rudzutak elected full member; Andrei Andreyev, Lazar Kaganovich, Kamenev, Sergei Kirov, Anastas Mikoyan, Sergo Ordzhonikidze, Petrovsky, and Uglanov elected candidate members.
23 October 1926 Trotsky and Kamenev relieved of duties at the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission.
3 November 1926 Ordzhonikidze relieved of duties at the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission; Vlas Chubar elected candidate member.
19 December 1927 Bukharin, Voroshilov, Kalinin, Kuibyshev, Molotov, Rykov, Rudzutak, Stalin, and Tomsky elected full members; Andreyev, Kaganovich, Kirov, Stanislav Kosior, Mikoyan, Petrovsky, Uglanov, and Chubar elected candidate members.
29 April 1929 Uglanov relieved of duties; Karl Bauman elected candidate member.
21 June 1929 Sergei Syrtsov elected candidate member.
17 November 1929 Bukharin relieved of duties.
13 July 1930 Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Kalinin, Kirov, Kosior, Kuibyshev, Molotov, Rudzutak, Rykov, and Stalin elected full members; Andreyev, Mikoyan, Petrovsky, Syrtsov, and Chubar elected candidate members.
1 December 1930 Syrtsov relieved of duties.
21 December 1930 Rykov and Andreyev relieved of duties at the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission; Ordzhonikidze elected full member.
4 February 1932 Rudzutak relieved of duties; Andreyev elected full member.
10 February 1934 Andreyev, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Kalinin, Kirov, Kosior, Kuibyshev, Molotov, Ordzhonikidze, and Stalin elected full members; Mikoyan, Petrovsky, Pavel Postyshev, Rudzutak, and Chubar elected candidate members.
1 December 1934 Kirov assassinated.
25 January 1935 Kuibyshev dies.
1 February 1935 Mikoyan and Chubar elected full members; Andrei Zhdanov and Robert Eikhe elected candidate members.
18 February 1937 Ordzhonikidze commits suicide.
26 May 1937 Rudzutak expelled from the Central Committee and Party after being arrested on 25 May 1937.
12 October 1937 Nikolai Yezhov elected candidate member.
14 January 1938 Postyshev relieved of duties; Nikita Khrushchev elected candidate member.
29 April 1938 Eikhe arrested.
3 May 1938 Kosior arrested.
16 June 1938 Chubar relieved of duties by the Politburo.
22 March 1939 Andreyev, Voroshilov, Zhdanov, Kaganovich, Kalinin, Mikoyan, Molotov, Stalin, and Khrushchev elected full members; Lavrenty Beria and Nikolay Shvernik elected candidate members.
21 February 1941 Voznesensky, Georgy Malenkov, and Aleksandr Shcherbakov elected candidate members.
10 May 1945 Shcherbakov dies
18 March 1946 Beria and Malenkov elected full members; Nikolai Bulganin and Alexei Kosygin elected candidate members.
3 June 1946 Kalinin dies.
26 February 1947 Voznesensky elected full member.
18 February 1948 Bulganin approved full member by questionnaire.
31 August 1948 Zhdanov dies.
4 September 1948 Kosygin approved full member by questionnaire.
7 March 1949 Voznesensky relieved of duties.
16 October 1952 Andrianov, Aristov, Beria, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Semyon Ignatyev, Kaganovich, Korotchenko, Kuznetsov, Otto Kuusinen, Malenkov, Malyshev, Melnikov, Mikoyan, Mikhaylov, Molotov, Pervukhin, Panteleimon Ponomarenko, Saburov, Stalin , Mikhail Suslov, Khrushchev, Chesnokov, Shvernik, and Shkiryatov elected full members; Leonid Brezhnev, Andrei Vyshinsky, Arseni Grigoryevich Zverev, Ignatov, Kabanov, Kosygin, Patolichev, Pegov, Puzanov, Tevosyan, and Yudin elected candidate members.
Unofficial Bureau of the Presidium members: Beria, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Pervukhin, Saburov, Stalin, and Khrushchev.
5 March 1953 Stalin dies.
5 March 1953 Beria, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Molotov, Pervukhin, Saburov, and Khrushchev elected full members at the joint session of the Central Committee, the Council of Ministers and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet; Bagirov, Melnikov, Ponomarenko, and Shvernik elected candidate members.
6 June 1953 Melnikov relieved of duties; Kirichenko elected candidate member.
26 June 1953 Beria arrested.
7 July 1953 Beria relieved of duties.
17 July 1953 Bagirov relieved of duties.
12 July 1955 Kirichenko and Suslov elected full members.
27 February 1956 Bulganin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Kirichenko, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Molotov, Pervukhin, Saburov, Suslov, and Khrushchev elected full members; Brezhnev, Georgy Zhukov, Mukhitdinov, Furtseva, Shvernik, Dmitri Shepilov elected candidate members.
14 February 1957 Frol Kozlov elected candidate member.
29 June 1957 Kaganovich, Malenkov, Molotov, and Shepilov relieved of duties. Aristov, Belyaev, Brezhnev, Bulganin, Voroshilov, Zhukov, Ignatov, Kirichenko, Kozlov, Kuusinen, Mikoyan, Suslov, Furtseva, Khrushchev, and Shvernik elected full members; Kalnberzin, Andrei Kirilenko, Korotchenko, Kosygin, Mazurov, Vasil Mzhavanadze, Mukhitdinov, Pervukhin, and Pospelov elected candidate members.
29 October 1957 Zhukov relieved of duties.
17 December 1957 Mukhitdinov elected full member.
18 June 1958 Nikolai Podgorny and Polyansky elected candidate members.
5 September 1958 Bulganin relieved of duties.
4 May 1960 Belyaev and Kirichenko relieved of duties; Kosygin, Podgorny, and Polyansky elected full members.
16 July 1960 Voroshilov relieved of duties.
18 January 1961 Voronov and Viktor Grishin elected candidate members.
31 October 1961 Brezhnev, Voronov, Kozlov, Kosygin, Kuusinen, Mikoyan, Podgorny, Polyansky, Suslov, Khrushchev, and Shvernik elected full members; Grishin, Mazurov, Mzhavanadze, Sharof Rashidov, and Vladimir Shcherbitsky elected candidate members.
23 April 1962 Kirilenko elected full member.
23 November 1962 Yefremov elected candidate member.
13 December 1963 Shcherbitsky relieved of duties; Shelest elected candidate member.
17 May 1964 Kuusinen dies.
14 October 1964 Khrushchev relieved of duties.
16 November 1964 Kozlov relieved of duties; Shelepin and Shelest elected full members; Demichev elected candidate member.
26 March 1965 Mazurov elected full member; Ustinov elected candidate member.
6 December 1965 Shcherbitsky elected candidate member.
8 April 1966 Brezhnev, Voronov, Kirilenko, Kosygin, Mazurov, Pelše, Podgorny, Polyansky, Suslov, Shelepin, and Shelest elected full members; Grishin, Demichev, Kunayev, Petr Masherov, Mzhavanadze, Rashidov, Dmitri Ustinov, and Shcherbitsky elected candidate members.
21 June 1967 Yuri Andropov elected candidate member.
9 April 1971 Brezhnev, Voronov, Grishin, Kirilenko, Kosygin, Kulakov, Kunayev, Mazurov, Pelše, Podgorny, Polyansky, Suslov, Shelepin, Shelest, and Shcherbitsky elected full members; Andropov, Demichev, Masherov, Mzhavanadze, Rashidov, and Ustinov elected candidate members.
23 November 1971 Solomentsev elected candidate member.
19 May 1972 Boris Ponomarev elected candidate member.
18 December 1972 Mzhavanadze relieved of duties.
27 April 1973 Voronov and Shelest relieved of duties; Andropov, Grechko, and Andrei Gromyko elected full members; Grigory Romanov elected candidate member.
16 April 1975 Shelepin relieved of duties.
5 March 1976 Andropov, Brezhnev, Grechko, Grishin, Gromyko, Kirilenko, Kosygin, Kulakov, Kunayev, Mazurov, Pelše, Podgorny, Romanov, Suslov, Ustinov, and Shcherbitsky elected full members; Aliyev, Demichev, Masherov, Ponomarev, Rashidov, and Solomentsev elected candidate members.
26 April 1976 Grechko dies.
24 May 1977 Podgorny relieved of duties.
3 October 1977 Kuznetsov and Konstantin Chernenko elected candidate members.
17 July 1978 Kulakov dies.
27 November 1978 Mazurov relieved of duties; Chernenko elected full member; Nikolai Tikhonov and Eduard Shevardnadze elected candidate members.
27 November 1979 Tikhonov elected full member; Mikhail Gorbachev elected candidate member.
4 October 1980 Masherov killed in automobile accident.
21 October 1980 Kosygin relieved of duties; Gorbachev elected full member; Kiselyov elected candidate member.
3 March 1981 Andropov, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, Grishin, Gromyko, Kirilenko, Kunayev, Pelše, Romanov, Suslov, Tikhonov, Ustinov, Chernenko, and Volodymyr Shcherbytsky elected full members; Heydar Aliyev, Demichev, Kiselyov, Vasily Kuznetsov, Boris Ponomarev, Rashidov, Solomentsev, and Shevardnadze elected candidate members.
25 January 1982 Suslov dies.
24 May 1982 Dolgikh elected candidate member.
10 November 1982 Brezhnev dies.
22 November 1982 Kirilenko relieved of duties; Aliyev elected full member.
11 January 1983 Kiselyov dies.
29 May 1983 Pelše dies.
15 June 1983 Vorotnikov elected candidate member.
31 October 1983 Rashidov commits suicide.
26 December 1983 Vorotnikov and Solomentse elected full members; Viktor Chebrikov elected candidate member.
9 February 1984 Andropov dies.
20 December 1984 Ustinov dies.
10 March 1985 Chernenko dies.
23 April 1985 Yegor Ligachev, Ryzhkov, and Chebrikov elected full members; Sokolov elected candidate member.
1 July 1985 Romanov relieved of duties; Shevardnadze elected full member.
15 October 1985 Tikhonov relieved of duties; Talyzin elected candidate member.
18 February 1986 Grishin relieved of duties; Yeltsin elected candidate member.
6 March 1986 Aliyev, Vorotnikov, Gorbachev, Gromyko, Zaykov, Kunayev, Ligachev, Ryzhkov, Solomentsev, Chebrikov, Shevardnadze, and Shcherbitsky elected full members; Demichev, Dolgikh, Yeltsin, Slyunkov, Sokolov, Solovyov, and Talyzin elected candidate members.
28 January 1987 Kunayev relieved of duties; Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev elected candidate member.
26 June 1987 Sokolov relieved of duties; Slyunkov, Yakovlev, and Nikonov elected full members; Yazov elected candidate member.
21 October 1987 Aliyev relieved of duties.
14 February 1988 Yeltsin relieved of duties; Maslyukov and Razumovsky elected candidate members.
30 September 1988 Gromyko, Solomentsev, Demichev, and Dolgikh relieved of duties; Medvedev elected full member; Biryukova, Vlasov, and Lukyanov elected candidate members.
20 September 1989 Nikonov, Chebrikov, Shcherbitsky, Solovyov, and Talyzin relieved of duties; Kryuchkov and Maslyukov elected full members; Yevgeny Primakov and Boris Pugo elected candidate members.
9 December 1989 Vladimir Ivashko elected full member.
14 July 1990 Mykolas Burokevičius, Gumbaridze, Gorbachev, Gurenko, Alexander Dzasokhov, Ivashko, Islom Karimov, Petru Lucinschi, Masaliyev, Makhkamov, Movsisyan, Ayaz Mütallibov, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Saparmurat Niyazov, Polozkov, Prokofyev, Rubiks, Semyonova, Sillari, Ye. Sokolov, Yegor Stroyev, Frolov, Oleg Shenin, and Gennadi Yanayev elected members of the Politburo.
11 December 1990 Ye. Sokolov and Movsisyan relieved of duties; Malofeyev and Pogosyan elected members.
31 January 1991 Gumbaridze and Yanayev relieved of duties at the joint plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission; Annus elected member.
25 April 1991 Masaliyev relieved of duties at the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission; Amanbayev, Yeremey, and Surkov elected members.
26 July 1991 Pogosyan relieved of duties.
24 August 1991 After the failed August Coup, Yeltsin banned the CPSU.

See also


Further reading

  • Oleg Khlevniuk [2006] Politburo. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11066-9

External links

  • Leadership of the CPSU Full list of members and candidate members of the Politburo includes dates on the body and year of death (or execution).

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