First among Equals
Stalin’s death was made public on 6 March 1953.2 That evening the decisions of a joint meeting of the USSR Council of Ministers, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet and the Central Committee were announced. On the surface everything appeared to bode well for a smooth and speedy succession: Malenkov was named Chairman of the Council of Ministers, while retaining his position in the Secretariat; Beria, Molotov, Bulganin and Kaganovich were all named as first vice-chairmen. Beria’s new lease on life was further confirmed by his appointment as Minister of Internal Affairs; he also took charge of the former Ministry of State Security (MGB), which was merged into the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Khrushchev was released from his duties as First Secretary of the Moscow Committee of the party in order to concentrate on his duties in the Central Committee Secretariat. The selection of Malenkov, Beria and Molotov as the funeral orators created the impression that these three formed a new leading triumvirate; Khrushchev’s appointment to head the commission charged with organising the funeral was generally overlooked.3
KeywordsHeavy Industry Internal Affair Political Life Central Committee Party Secretary
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