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List of leaders of the Soviet Union
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List of leaders of the Soviet Union

An approximately chronological listing of Soviet leaders (heads of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Soviet Union). The formal head of the government was the Premier of the Soviet Union. This was the most important position in Lenin's time. After Lenin's death the most important position ultimately became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union who headed the Politburo.

NameTitlePeriod
Vladimir Ilych LeninChairman of the Council of People's Commissars''*. Informally, leader of the Bolsheviks since the very beginning.October 26, 1917 - January 21, 1924
Joseph StalinGeneral Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet UnionApril 3, 1922 - March 5, 1953
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSRMay 6, 1941 - March 5, 1953
Georgy MalenkovFirst Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet UnionMarch 6, 1953 - March 13, 1953
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSRMarch 5, 1953 - February 8, 1955
Nikita KhrushchevFirst Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet UnionSeptember 7, 1953 - October 14, 1964
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSRMarch 27, 1958 - October 14, 1964
Leonid BrezhnevFirst Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet UnionOctober 14, 1964 - April 8, 1966
General SecretaryApril 8, 1966 - November 10, 1982
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSRJune 16, 1977 - November 10, 1982
Yuri AndropovGeneral SecretaryNovember 12, 1982 - February 9, 1984
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSRJune 16, 1983 - February 9, 1984
Konstantin ChernenkoGeneral SecretaryFebruary 13, 1984 - March 10, 1985
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSRApril 11, 1984 - March 10, 1985
Mikhail GorbachevGeneral SecretaryMarch 11, 1985 - August 24, 1991
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSRMay 25, 1989** - March 15, 1990
President of the Soviet UnionMarch 14, 1990 - December 25, 1991

(*)The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was only created in 1922. From 1918 to 1922 the state was known as the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic (the RSFSR continued after 1922 as one of 15 republics in the USSR). From the February Revolution in 1917 the state was the Russian Republic though it was often referred to as Soviet Russia after the October Revolution in 1917 when the Council of People's Commissars was formed. (**)Date of election to the new position of Chairman of the Supreme Soviet;had been Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet since late 1988.

The post of General Secretary was created in April 1922 but did not come to signify the party leader or leader of the country until after Stalin won the struggle with Trotsky to succeed Lenin. The title was First Secretary between 1952 and April 1966. The "Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet" was the equivalent of President of the state while "Chairman of the Council of Ministers" and "Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars" were equivalent to Premier or Prime Minister.

On March 14 1990, the newly created (1989) Congress of People's Deputies voted to end the Communist party's control over the government and elected Gorbachev President of the Soviet Union.

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