Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Suslov, Mikhail Andreyevich (1902–1982)

Soviet political leader. Born on 8 November 1902 in Shakhovskoye in western Russia, Mikhail Suslov served in local Komsomol (Young Communist League) posts from 1918 to 1921 and then joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). He graduated from the Prechistenskaia Workers' Faculty in Moscow in 1924 and from the Plekhanov Institute of the National Economy in 1928. He did graduate work at the Institute of Economics of the Communist Academy during 1929–1931 while teaching at Moscow University. During 1931–1935 he served in administrative posts in the party apparatus before attending the Moscow Economic Institute. Graduating in 1937, he was elected to the CPSU Central Committee in 1941 and worked in party administrative posts in Rostov and Stavropol until 1944. During World War II, he was also a member of the Military Council of the North Caucasus Front and served as chief of staff for regional partisan forces.

Beginning in 1944, Suslov held a succession of Central Committee posts. Named a Central Committee secretary in 1947, he had responsibility for enforcing party ideology. Following the purge of Andrei Zhdanov in 1948, Suslov also assumed responsibility for relations with foreign communist parties and served briefly as editor of Pravda. In 1952 he was elected to the expanded Presidium (Politburo), although he lost his seat when the body was reduced from twenty-five to ten members in 1953. Shortly afterward, he became second secretary of the Central Committee. He returned to the Presidium in 1955 and served until his death, wielding considerable influence in matters of ideology and foreign affairs.

A party conservative, Suslov opposed Nikita Khrushchev's extensive attempts to implement a de-Stalinization campaign beginning in 1956. Suslov became the principal advocate of intervention in Hungary during the 1956 uprising and was in Budapest to help oversee its implementation. He was also responsible for the banning of the Boris Pasternak's novel Dr. Zhivago. While Suslov supported Khrushchev in the Politburo power struggles of 1956–1957, differences between the two men grew over a number of issues, including economic reform, foreign policy, and the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which Khrushchev permitted.

In October 1964, Suslov was a key figure in the ouster of Khrushchev. Suslov's conservative influence grew under Khrushchev's successor Leonid Brezhnev, especially in cultural affairs, in part because Suslov did not seek higher office himself. In foreign policy, he generally opposed détente, advocated intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, and urged similar action in Poland the following year. Suslov died in Moscow on 25 January 1982.

Steven W. Guerrier


Further Reading
Gelman, Harry. The Brezhnev Politburo and the Decline of Détente. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.; Taubman, William C. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era. New York: Norton, 2003.
 

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