Leonid Ilich Brezhnev
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Brezhnev, Leonid Il’ich
Born Dec. 19, 1906. Leading figure in the Communist Party, the Soviet state, and the international Communist and workers’ movement. General secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU; member of the Politburo of the Central Committee.
Brezhnev was born into the family of a metallurgical worker in the village of Kamenskoe (now the city of Dneprodzerzhinsk). He began working at age 15. After graduating in 1927 from the Kursk Land Management and Reclamation Technicum, he worked as a land management specialist in Kokhanovo Raion, Orsha Okrug, Byelorussian SSR; in Kursk Guberniia; and in the Urals as manager of a raion land department, vice-chairman of the executive committee of the Bisert Raion Soviet, and first deputy chief of the Urals Oblast Land Administration. Brezhnev joined the Komsomol in 1923 and became a member of the CPSU in 1931. In 1935 he graduated from the metallurgical institute in the city of Dneprodzerzhinsk and worked there as an engineer at a metallurgical plant. In May 1937 he was elected vice chairman of the executive committee of the Dneprodzerzhinsk Urban Soviet. In May 1938 he became a division manager and in February 1939, secretary of the Dnepropetrovsk Oblast Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party (Bolshevik).
From the early days of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union (1941-45), Brezhnev conducted a great deal of organizational and political work in the army in the field, holding the positions of deputy chief of the Political Administration of the Southern Front, chief of the Political Department of the Eighteenth Army, and chief of the Political Administration of the Fourth Ukrainian Front. In 1944 he was given the rank of major general. He participated in combat operations of the Soviet Army in the Caucasus, the Black Sea region, the Crimea, and the Ukraine and in battles for the liberation of the peoples of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary. In 1945-46 he was chief of the Political Administration of the Carpathian Military District.
After the Great Patriotic War, the Party assigned Brezhnev to a leading position in the rebuilding of the national economy. In August 1946 he became first secretary of the Zaporozh’e Oblast Party Committee, and in November 1947, first secretary of the Dnepropetrovsk Oblast Party Committee. He devoted all of his knowledge, experience, and great organizational abilities to the fastest possible restoration of the most important socialist industry—the V. I. Lenin Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Station—the metallurgical giant the Zaporozh’e Steel Mill, and the economies of Zaporozh’e and Dnepropetrovsk oblasts.
In July 1950, Brezhnev was elected first secretary of the Central Committee of the Moldavian Communist Party. The republic’s Party organization did a great deal of work in the development of industry, fundamental socialist reorganization of agriculture, and advancement of the culture of the Moldavian SSR. At the Nineteenth Congress of the CPSU Brezhnev was elected a member of the Central Committee, and at the Plenum of the Central Committee (October 1952) he was elected a candidate member of the Presidium and secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. From March 1953 to February 1954, holding the rank of lieutenant general, he worked as deputy chief of the Main Political Administration of the Soviet Army and Navy.
In the period when the Party, solving the problems of the further expansion of agriculture, launched the large-scale development of the virgin lands and wastelands, the Central Committee of the CPSU sent Brezhnev to Kazakhstan, where he was elected second secretary (February 1954) and then first secretary (August 1955) of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan.
At the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU Brezhnev was elected a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU. At the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU (February 1956) he was elected a candidate member of the Presidium and secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and concurrently since 1958 he has been vice-chairman of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU for the RSFSR. In June 1957 he became a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He was assigned by the Central Committee to deal with problems of the development of heavy industry and construction, the supplying of the country’s armed forces with the latest combat equipment, and the development of cosmonautics.
At the Fifth Session of the Fifth Supreme Soviet of the USSR (May 1960), Brezhnev was elected chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR; he held this office until June 1964, and at the same time, from June 1963 he was secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He did a great deal of work to improve the state organization, develop socialist democracy and strengthen the legal system, and carry out a Leninist foreign policy.
The October 1964 Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, in whose work Brezhnev took an active part, is important in the life of the Party and the country. At the October Plenum of the Central Committee, which expressed the unwavering will of the Party to observe strictly and develop Leninist norms of Party life and principles of leadership, he was elected first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. In November 1964 he was approved as chairman of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU for the RSFSR.
In March 1965 at a Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU Brezhnev delivered a report that stated the Party’s essentially new economic policy in the countryside and formulated the most important trends in the development of agricultural production. At the May 1966 Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU he made a speech that set forth an extensive program of land reclamation work as a necessary condition for an accelerated development of the country’s agriculture.
At the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU (March-April 1966), Brezhnev gave the report of the Central Committee, which defined the major goals of the five-year plan for the development of the national economy of the USSR during 1966-70 and the fundamental principles of Soviet foreign policy. The Twenty-third Congress elected Brezhnev a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The Plenum of the Central Committee, which was held after the congress, elected him general secretary of the Central Committee.
On Nov. 3, 1967, at the joint ceremonial meeting of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the supreme soviets of the USSR and the RSFSR, Brezhnev gave the report “Fifty Years of Great Victories for Socialism,” which listed the milestones of the half century of socialist development of the Soviet Union and sketched the next goals in the construction of a Communist society.
Brezhnev devotes much effort and energy to strengthening world socialism, the struggle for lasting friendship and peace among nations, unifying the international Communist and workers’ movement, and strengthening the bond of revolutionary solidarity of the workers of the world. He played a major role in the preparation and realization in June 1969 in Moscow of the International Conference of Communist and Workers’ Parties, which heralded a new stage in the struggle of the peoples of the world against imperialism and for peace and socialism. He headed the delegation of the CPSU at the conference and delivered a speech on its behalf expounding its views.
At the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU (March-April 1971), Brezhnev presented the report of the Central Committee, which gave a scientifically based analysis of the contemporary international situation and the milestones of the country’s development, defined the major goals of the Ninth Five-year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR (1971-75), and proposed a broad World Program for the struggle against the aggressive policies of imperialism, for the safety of all peoples, and for peace in the entire world. The Twenty-fourth Congress elected Brezhnev to the Central Committee of the CPSU, and in April 1971 the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU elected him general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
The reports and decisions of the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses developed many questions of Marxist-Leninist theory and the practical activity of the CPSU.
Brezhnev plays an outstanding role in the development and realization of Leninist foreign policy for the USSR. The World Program was disseminated everywhere and was supported by progressive forces throughout the world. Its positive effect on international events is self-evident. Brezhnev’s activity in establishing personal contacts with leaders of many countries and in combining policies of determined resistance to aggression with constructive steps toward a political settlement of urgent international problems has received general acclaim. A major event in defusing international tensions and building mutual cooperation was the signing of documents as a result of talks in 1972 and 1973 between Brezhnev and R. Nixon, president of the USA. The agreements reached in a series of meetings by Brezhnev with the federal chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany W. Brandt and the president of France G. Pompidou brought profound satisfaction to all peace-loving forces.
As general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Brezhnev has shown himself to be a political activist similar to Lenin. With his rich experience and great organizational talent, he tirelessly labors to strengthen the Communist Party and the Soviet government. During these years, with Brezhnev’s direct participation, the Central Committee of the CPSU elaborated and implemented important measures in developing Leninist norms for the construction of the party and the government, affirming the principles of collectivization of labor, improving management of the national economy and the growth of the economy, raising the welfare and culture of the workers, cementing friendship among peoples, and increasing the defensive power of the Soviet government.
Brezhnev was a deputy to the third through eighth convocations of the Supreme Soviet and is a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. In June 1961 the title of Hero of Socialist Labor was conferred on him for his outstanding services in the development of rocket technology and in the successful flight of man into space on the Vostok spaceship. For his outstanding services to the Communist Party and the Soviet government in Communist construction and in strengthening the defense capabilities of the country and for his major achievements in the struggle against the fascist German predators at the front during the Great Patriotic War, Brezhnev was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in 1966 on the occasion of his 60th birthday. For his outstanding services in the struggle to maintain and strengthen peace, he was awarded the Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Nations on Apr. 19, 1973. In recognition of his achievements in solidifying socialist cooperation and the international Communist and labor movement and in securing world peace, Brezhnev received the title of Hero of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria on Sept. 8, 1973. He was awarded four Orders of Lenin, two Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of Bogdan Khmel’nitskii, the Order of the Red Star, medals, and the highest state prizes of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the Polish People’s Republic, and the Republic of Cuba.
WORKSLeninskim kursom, vols. 1-3. Moscow, 1970-72.
KPSS v bor’be za edinstvo vsekh revoliutsionnykh i miroliubivykh sil. Moscow, 1972.
Ob aktual’nykh problemakh partiinogo stroitel’stva. Moscow, 1973.
O vneshnei politike KPSS i Sovetskogo gosudarstva. Moscow, 1973.