Related Content

Related Overviews

Joseph Stalin (1879—1953) Soviet statesman, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR 1922–53

Andrei Aleksandrovich Zhdanov (1896—1948)

Georgi Maksimilianovich Malenkov (1902—1988)

Nikita Khrushchev (1894—1971) Soviet statesman, Premier of the USSR 1958–64

See all related overviews in Oxford Reference »


More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Social sciences
  • Politics


Show Summary Details


Mikhail Andreevich Suslov

(b. 1902)

Quick Reference

(b. Saratov province, 21 Nov. 1902; d. Moscow, 25 Jan. 1982)

Russian; member of the Central Committee 1941–82 and Secretary 1947–50, 1952–82, ‘Second Secretary’ 1964–82 Born into a peasant family, Suslov was sent by the party to study in Moscow, later attending the Plekhanov Institute and the Institute of Red Professors. In 1931 he joined the party's Central Control Commission, helping to purge the Urals region. In 1937–9 he was secretary of the Rostov-on-Don Regional Committee and 1939–44 secretary of Stavropol Krai, in both areas being responsible for crushing dissent, in particular organizing the deportation of many ‘disloyal’ nationalities from the Caucasus. He headed the party Bureau in Lithuania 1944–6, where he organized mass executions and deportations. In 1947 Stalin made him Agitprop Secretary and in 1948 a candidate member of the Politbureau. He drew up the indictment for Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Cominform and succeeded Zhdanov as Soviet Cominform representative later in 1948. In 1949–50 he edited Pravda and in 1950 joined the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. In 1952 he regained his post of Central Committee Secretary and became a full member of the Presidium (Politbureau).

After Stalin's death in 1953 he lost his seat on the Presidium, but in 1955 after the fall of Malenkov regained full Politbureau membership, supervising policy on ideology and relations with foreign Communist parties. In 1956 he was responsible for crushing ‘counter-revolution’ in Eastern Europe, especially in Hungary, but in 1957 helped Khrushchev defeat the ‘Anti-Party Group’. He came to disagree with Khrushchev's style of government and policies and in 1964 plotted with Brezhnev to oust him.

When Brezhnev became leader Suslov became de facto ‘second secretary’, wielding enormous influence on ideology, personnel, and foreign policy. He supported the crackdown on dissent but argued against military intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. He supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the crackdown in Poland in 1981. On his death in 1982 he was buried next to Stalin.

Subjects: Social sciencesPolitics

Reference entries