Closely allied with Nikita Khrushchev, Kozlov became a full member of the Presidium in 1957. He was briefly premier of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) during 1957–1958 but resigned this post to become the deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, or deputy premier. In 1960 he assumed the powerful post of secretary of the CPSU Central Committee.
Kozlov was among Soviet hard-liners who favored an uncompromising stance toward the West. He had been a key player in enforcing an uncompromising approach against the 2 June 1962 workers' strike in Novocherkassk that resulted in several deaths when Red Army soldiers fired on demonstrators. The event was kept secret for almost thirty years.
Kozlov was considered to be the potential successor to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, whose position with his colleagues in the party hierarchy had been weakened following the 1960 U-2 Crisis and especially after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. This all became moot when Kozlov suffered a stroke in April 1963. Without this health setback, Kozlov and not Leonid Brezhnewv might have become the leader of the Soviet Union. Despite his near-complete incapacitation, Kozlov retained his posts until he was forced to resign in November 1964 after Khrushchev's removal from power. Kozlov died in Moscow on 30 January 1965.
Spencer C. Tucker
Medvedev, Roi A. Khrushchev. Translated by Brian Pearce. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1982.; Remnick, David. Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: Vintage, 1994.; Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era. New York: Norton, 2003.