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Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov was born in Kazakhstan either in December 1901 or January 1902 depending on which source you choose to believe. A bright student, he graduated with honours and, during the Russian civil war, became a political commissar for the Red Army in 1919. He joined the communist party in 1920 and soon joined with Lavrenti Beria to enforce the purges of the 1930s instigated by Stalin.

In 1938 Yezhov Nikolai, the chief of the secret police1, was demoted. Malenkov was tipped to replace him, but the job was handed to Beria instead leading to a feud between the two former friends. During WWII he became one of the five members of the 'inner Politburo' which made all the major policy decisions with regards to Russian involvement. He was nominated to become a member of the Politburo in 1941 but didn't actually become a full member until 1946 when he was promoted to the posts of second secretary of the Central Committee and Deputy Prime Minister. Rumours, probably spread by Beria and substantiated by another prominant party member Andrei Zhdanov, denounced him as putting economics and personal affairs second to Communist ideology and he soon lost favour.

When Zhdanov himself fell from grace in 1948, Beria and Malenkov joined forces once more and even arranged for Zhdanov's friends and allies to be executed or sent to the Gulag. In March 1953 Stalin died and Malenkov succeeded him as Premier and First Party Secretary, horrifying the western powers who knew him primarily as the mastermind behind the 1930s purges. Unlike most other party members he was slow to denounce Stalin, however, and lost the secretarial job to Nikita Khrushchev. By 1955 he was deeply mistrusted by the party and, when he stated that 'A nuclear war could lead to global destruction', his fate was sealed. He attempted to reduce arms build up and decrease the power of the secret police. He was finally forced to resign over his failed agricultural policy by which he lessened heavy industry, increased consumer goods manufacture and gave more rewards to the farmers on collective farms. He remainded a member of the Presidium2 but was removed in 1957 after a failed attempt to oust Khrushchev.

By 1961 his fall from grace was complete. He was expelled from the Communist Party and exiled within the Soviet Union. He died, an ardent communist to the last, in Moscow in January 1988.

1NKVD2The successor of the Politburo.

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