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Aleksandr Nikolaevich Shelepin

(b. 1918)

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(b. Voronezh, 18 Aug. 1918; d. 24 Oct. 1994)

Russian; chairman of the KGB 1958–61, member of the Politburo 1964–75 Shelepin graduated from the Moscow Institute of Philosophy and obtained a higher degree from the Moscow Institute of History. While still a student he expressed his ambition to become a party boss. He started his political career in the Communist Youth League (Comsomol). He served in the Red Army during the Russo-Finnish War of 1939 to 1940. During the Second World War he helped organize the partisan movement in the Moscow region. In 1943 he rejoined the Comsomol, working at its All-Union Secretariat in Moscow, and became its head in 1952. After 1954 he mobilized thousands of young Communists in support of Khrushchev's ‘Virgin Lands’ programme. In 1958 he served briefly as Central Committee secretary in charge of the Party Organs Department. In December 1958 he replaced Ivan Serov as chairman of the KGB. His career outside state security and his higher education distinguished him from his predecessors and his appointment was probably intended to improve the image of the KGB. In November 1961 he left the KGB whose work he continued to oversee as chairman of the new Committee of Party and State Control within the Central Committee. The new head of the KGB was his client, Vladimir Semichastny. Shelepin and Semichastny disliked their former patron Khrushchev's search for rapprochement with the West and participated in the plot which led to his fall in 1964. As a reward, Shelepin was made a full member of the Presidium (known as the Politburo after 1966). Shelepin soon aroused the suspicions of Leonid Brezhnev, the new party leader. Brezhnev disliked Shelepin's ambition and his control of the security apparatus. He possibly also found his belligerent attitude an impediment to good East-West relations. In 1967 Shelepin was removed from the secretariat of the Central Committee and demoted to head of the Soviet trade unions. He was removed from the Politburo in 1975.

Subjects: Social sciencesPolitics

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