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
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.