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Georgy Malenkov
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Georgy Malenkov

Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov (Гео́ргий Максимилиа́нович Маленко́в) (GHYOR-ghee mah-leen-KOFF) (January 13 [January 8, Old Style], 1902 - January 14, 1988) was a Soviet politician and Communist Party leader, a close collaborator of Joseph Stalin, and the premier of the USSR (March 1953–February 1955) after Stalin's death.

Malenkov was born in Orenburg, Russia. He joined the Red Army in 1919 and the Communist Party in April 1920. During his military service, he was a political commissar. After leaving the Red Army in 1921, he studied in Moscow Higher Technical School. After graduating in 1925, he worked for Communist Party and became one of Josef Stalin's confidants. Together with Lavrenti Beria, Malenkov aided Stalin during the purges of the late 1930s. He became a rival of Beria.

Named as candidate for the Politburo, Malenkov joined in 1946. Although Malenkov fell out of favor in place of his rivals Andrei Zhdanov and Beria, he soon came back into Stalin's favor, especially because of Zhdanov's downfall. Beria soon joined Malenkov, and both of them saw all of Zhdanov's allies purged and sent to gulags. In 1952, Malenkov became a member of the party Secretariat. The death of Stalin in 1953 briefly brought Malenkov to the highest office he would ever hold. With Beria's support, Malenkov became Chairman of the Council of Ministers (or Premier) as well as First Secretary of the party, but he had to resign from the Secretariat on March 13th due to the opposition of other members of the Presidium. Nikita Khrushchev assumed the position of First Secretary in September ushering in a period of a Malenkov-Khrushchev duumvirate.

Malenkov retained the office of premier for two years. During these years, he was vocal about his opposition to nuclear armament, declaring "a nuclear war could lead to global destruction." He also advocated refocussing the economy on the production of consumer goods and away from heavy industry.

Forced to resign in February 1955 after he came under attack for his closeness to Beria (who was executed as a traitor in December 1953) and for the failure of his government's policies. Malenkov remained in the Politburo's successor, the Presidium. However, in 1957 he was again forced to resign due to participation in a failed attempt together with Nikolai Bulganin, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Lazar Kaganovich (the so-called Anti-Party Group) to depose Khrushchev. In 1961, he was expelled from the Communist Party and exiled within the Soviet Union. He became a manager of a hydroelectric plant in Kazakhstan until his death.

Preceded by:
Josef Stalin
List of leaders of the Soviet Union Succeeded by:
Nikita Khrushchev