Georgi Malenkov, Once Stalin’s Heir Apparent, Dead at 86
MOSCOW (AP) _ Georgi M. Malenkov, the right-hand man to Stalin during the purges of the 1930s who was pushed aside by Nikita S. Khrushchev in a Kremlin power struggle, has died at age 86, the government said today.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov said Malenkov died a few days ago. Gerasimov gave no specifics, and no further details on Malenkov’s death were available immediately.
Malenkov had briefly appeared to be Stalin’s heir apparent. He served as premier for two years after Stalin’s death in 1953, but lost out to Khrushchev.
Malenkov was removed from his top posts as premier and first secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee in 1955, publicly confessing to having followed the wrong policies.
In 1957, he was thrown out of the ruling Politburo and off the Central Committee, and there were frequent rumors that he had been shot. He apparently ended his career as a manager of a hydroelectric station in a small town in east Kazakhstan.
Soviet historian Roy Medvedev reported in 1984 in his book ″All Stalin’s Men″ that he had spotted Malenkov sitting with his wife in a hospital for old Bolsheviks in Moscow. The writer said Malenkov had an apartment in Moscow but spent most of his time at his daughter’s dacha outside the capital.
Born Jan. 8, 1902, in the town of Orenburg (later Chkalov) in the Urals, Malenkov was too young to take an active part in the events leading up to the 1917 Communist revolution. He joined the Communist Party during the civil war, helped put down the revolt of central Asian anti-communist groups, then began his 25-year career as a political worker.
By 1925, he had joined the staff of the party Central Committee in Moscow and after holding several posts, became a member of Stalin’s Secretariat.
In 1934, he was named chief of the party Personnel Department. It was in this post that he directed much of the administrative work of Stalin’s purges. Historians and Kremlinologists believe he took an active part in choosing people for removal and selecting their successors. Millions were killed or sent to labor camps beginning in the 1930s.
Malenkov became a Central Committee secretary in 1939, taking his first step toward membership in the Politburo, which was then called the Presidium. Two years later, he was made an alternate member of the Politburo and during World War II served on the State Defense Committee.
He briefly struggled for power with Andrei A. Zhdanov, Stalin’s ideological commissar, but after Zhdanov died in 1948 it appeared that Malenkov was without rival for Stalin’s favors.
When Malenkov presented the Central Committee’s report to the 19th Congress of the Communist Party in 1952, he seemed ready for the succession.
Two days after Josef Stalin died on March 5, 1953, Malenkov became premier as well as senior secretary of the Central Committee.
He proclaimed ″a new life for all,″ calling for increased production of consumer goods and new housing. By offering such a proposal, he made enemies among the military and heavy industry lobby.
Malenkov also proposed a more moderate foreign policy, in an effort to steer the Soviet leadership away from the Leninist doctrine that war between socialism and capitalism was inevitable. Malenkov said that in the age of nuclear weapons, civilization would be destroyed by such a war, but Khrushchev denounced this idea as revisionist.
Khrushchev and other powerful members of the Soviet leadership, apparently alarmed at the prospect of the emergence of a new dictator, quickly forced Malenkov from his Central Committee post.
Elevated after Stalin’s death to first secretary of the Central Committee, Khrushchev began looking for ways to eliminate his rivals. He first gained the support of Malenkov’s opponents and then showed that the premier’s promises to improve workers’ living conditions had not materialized.
Malenkov was forced to make a public confession in 1955 at a meeting of the Supreme Soviet and was demoted to deputy of the Council of Ministers. He was given the relatively obscure post of Minister of Power Stations, although he at first was allowed to keep his positions in the Central Committee and the Politburo.
From then on, Malenkov’s fortunes declined, while Khrushchev rose to the pinnacle of the Kremlin elite, becoming party general secretary.
Later, Khrushchev adopted Malenkov’s proposals for greater production of consumer goods and peaceful coexistance with capitalist nations.