Created: 3/4/1960

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible







iVI i


The Succession to Khrushchev

Thisorking paper. It discusses briefly the prospects of various of Khrushchev's lieutenants for succeeding him. It emphasizes contingencies in the succession, and argues that much additionalmust come to hand before any one of Khru shchev's lieutenants can be put forward withas his likely successor.


Sinceeath, the structure of power in the USSR has come to be completely dominated by the Communist party machine; the party leaders are men of the sametype; and there haselaxation ofwithin the party and between the party and the Under these circumstances, the problem of thewould appear to be reducedontest for control over the party machine, rathertruggle between the party and the other instruments of authority in thethe armed forces, the secret police, and the governmental bureaucracy.

Although party careerists enjoy decided advantages over other competitors for the succession, none of them has held high office long enough to show the kind of leadership qualities and to develop the support needed to assure his victory ln any contest for power. In addition, recent changes in thethe domotlon ofong-time protege ofillustrated thenature of the positions held by Khrushchev'sand have left the issue of the succession quite More than at any time in the recent past, efficiency ln performance hasajor criterion for success or failure ln the hierarchy and has generated pressures that seem certain to lead to further changes ln the ruling group.

esult of the increasing emphasis on youth and on vigorous leadership, the road appears to havo been cleared for the peaceful retirement of the older members of tha helr-archy, some of whom are probably presidium members in name only. Among the older leadors, only First Deputy Premier Mikoyan appears to have sufficient prestige, influence, and ability to qualifyandidate for the succession. In the event of Khrushchev's early demise, Mikoyan might emerge as the nominal beadaretaker regimetruggle for primacy was being waged among the younger members of the hierarchy.

The presidium members now in their forties or fifties stand out as the strongest contenders for the succession in the long run. Some members of this group are likely toand to retain strong potential Influence, even if the succession is postponed for several more years or if the

struggle for tbe succession after Khrushchev's death is prolonged. The weightiest contenders in this age group are First Deputy Premier Kozlov, RSFSR Premier Polyansky, and central party secretaries Arlstov, Ignatov, and Brezhnev.

Kozlov, ln particular, appears to be Khrushchev'sfavorite. ormer party careerist from Leningrad, Kozlov was transferred to his present governmental post when Khrushchev took over the premiership. Be has apparently measured up to his new responsibilities, as Khrushchev is said to have selected him as his successor. Khrushchev's backing has evidently enabled Kozlov to extend his influence in the party machine through tbe appointmentumber of former Leningrad associates to Important posts in the central and regional party hierarchies. Tbe promotion of tbe Lenin-graders and the simultaneous eclipseumber of formerly prominent men from the Ukrainian party hierarchy mayalculated effort on Khrushchev's part to manipulate the succession in Kozlov's favor. It Is uncertain, however, whether Kozlov will remain ln Khrushchev's favor and canosition as heir apparent.


The issue of the succession to Khrushchev has begun to cast Its shadow over the internal Soviet political scene. Important personnel changes have taken place during*the past year which, while not affecting Khrushchev's dominanthave shaken the upper ranks of the Soviet hierarchy from which his eventual successor will emerge. As Khrushchev ages, the competition among his lieutenants will almostintensify. This paper seoks to Identify the principals in the anticipated competition and to assess their variouH prospects as heirs to Khrushchev.

Khrushchev/s ca I ac y

Although Khrushchev's hold on supreme power In the USSR has been relatively brief, he has transformed the Sovietenvironment. roduct of tbe Stalin era, he has played the principal role in refashioning tbe Stalinist political heritage and disentangling its assets from its liabilities. He hasragmatic, innovating spirit into Soviet society and has given new direction and impetus to Soviet policies at home and abroad.

Since the defeat of the "autiparty" group In Junehrushchev hasosition of supreme authority in the Soviet leadership. He is head of the party andhe has eliminated his main rivals from tbe seat ofand he has placed bis proteges in command of the leading organs of authority. Alone among the members of the hierarchy, Khrushchev has received wide acclaimultitude ofand has benefited from an apparently genuine popularity. He has thus attained heights of power andwell beyond the reach of any political competitors, and there is every reason to expect that he will retain thisuntil death or incapacitating illness removes him from the scene.

Khrushchev is not,ingular, isolatedphenomenon like Stalin. He is first and foremost the leader and spokesman of the Interests and outlook of themachine, the bard core of political careerists who have sought to perpetuate their rule and their philosophy over


the entire country. The cornerstone oC Khrushchev's policies has been the establishment of party supremacy, in fact as well as in theory, over all axeas of Soviet national life. By basing his regime squarely on the party, Khrushchev has promoted not only his own interests but those of the party as well.

The re-establishment of party control over the chain of command hasarge measure of stability inpolitical life that was lacking when Stalin died. At that time the party was at the lowest point in its vitality and prestige, and supreme power was shared precariously by representatives of different power elites. The party machine now completely dominates the structure of power, reigning supreme over the other functionaleconomicthe armed forces, and the secretparty oareerlstshe principal integrating and centralizing elements in the state. Not since the early days of Stalin's rule has the party enjoyedosition of authority. By eliminating pluralism in the powerKhrushchev has bequeathed to his partyirm hold over national life and has built safeguardsragmentation of authority outside the party after his death.

The primacy of the party has meant that the men on whom Khrusbchev has relied to govern tbe nation have been drawn primarily from the party machine. Party careerists, led by the entire membership of the secretariat, the executive agency of the party machine,trong majority In the presidium, the summit of the power structure. Whatever their individual differences, tbe members of this privileged group have an overriding interest inommon front azainst the other professional groups which have been demotedower order of influence and status in the chain of command.

Khrushchev haseries of reforms designed to Infuse the party with new vitality for the performance of its enlarged command functions. Prominent among these hasevival of party traditions which Stalin had violatedtho later years of his reign: regular convocation of party meetings at the central committee level and below,on strict observance of party regulations, andon wider participation of party members in party and state activities. However, these measures have not led to any dilution of the concentration of power in the party high command.


Despite the alleged adherence to "inner-party democracy" in the post-Stalin period, the party has regained organized along strict hierarchical lines designed to safeguard the supremacy of the self-perpetuating leadership over tho rank-and-file membership. The vast powers of patronage andavailable to the secretarial hierarchy centered In Moscow have ensured the continued subordination of tbe lowor partythe central committee ontheleadership. Even though tho central committee in recent years has been convoked more frequently than in the past, lt has functioned primarilyounding board and rubber stamp for decisions reached earlier in the restricted circle of top party leaders. Membership on the committee is anof prestige, not power.

Khrushchev's reliance on the party as the mainof authority in the state has produced striking changes in the political style of his regime. Unlike Stalin, whose dictatorship was based primarily on fear, Khrushchev has relied largely on persuasion and pressure. As leader of the party and nation, he has attempted toegime more acceptable to the party at every level and, at the same time, more responsive to the aspirations of the population at large In line with the effort to popularize the dictatorship, the regime has readily discarded outmoded Stalinist patterns of control and gradually replaced thorn with more flexible Instead of repressing popular pressures, the regime has sought to harness them to its own purposes. In short, political manipulation and demagogic appeal, involving premises of security and welfare in oxchange for partyhave formed the vital ingredients cf Khrushchev's style of rule.

The changes in Soviet political life wrought bybaveore stable setting for tbe succession than that existing at Stalin's death. The structure ofis more nearly monolithic, and the leadership more nearly homogenous. There hasignificant relaxation ofwithin the party and between tho party and the populace Io this atmosphere, the sudden domise of Khrushchev should present lossrisis to the party than did the death of Stalin

Khrushchev's successors stand toystem of party leadership which has been made to work without serious


domestic challenges, and to which they are strongly committed professionally and personally. Oiven these circumstances, the problem of the succession would appear to be reducedontest for control over the party machine, rather thantruggle between the party careerists and the other power elites.

The dominant position of the professional party machine in the system of power created by Khrushchev does notmean that one of the present central partywould automatically inherit Khrushchev's position. It probably does mean, however, that the disposition ofImmediately after Khrushchev's death would have to accord with the views of the majority of the central partywho form an elite within an elite. It probably also means that anyone aspiringominant position in the post-Khrushchev leadership would seek to gain control of theand use it as the principal instrument for enlarging his authority.

In any ca3e, there remain the basic elements ofand uncertainty in any transfer of powerotalitarian state. Tho kind of authority Khrushchev possessesersonal to him and not resident in the various offices he holds. Such authority cannot be Inherited but must be won under conditions of fierce competition, since no rules exist for its exercise or for its smooth transfer to other bands. Hence, Khrushchev's lieutenants, despite the advantages tbey have over othermust face the prospect of an open race within their ranks.

ContenuVrs for Khrushchev'sMantlr

At the present time the Leading contenders for theare to be found among the members of the Communistull (voting) membersembers who, together with Khrushchev, wield supremo power in the USSR. Although the men under Khrushchevshare power, they by no means stand on an equal footinij in the hierarchy. The influence they exert varies with their training, experience, and administrative duties; it alsoheavily on their relationship with Khrushchev.

There appear to be several fairly distinct gradations in rank and Influence within the Soviet ruling group. inner circle of advisors appears tc consist of four men: First Deputy Premiers Anastas Mikoyan and Frol Kozlov, who concentrate on governmental questions, and partyMikhail Suslov and Averky Arlstov, who handle party affairs. Aleksey Kirichenko,ankingember of this privileged circle, but both he and Nikolay Belyayev, until recently party boss of Kazakhstan haveevere decline in status. Immediately below these top-ranking figures are the younger members of the presidium who aro also members of theIgnatov, Leonid Brezhnev, Tekaterlna Furtseva, and Nuritdin Mukhitdinov. Well below these two groups are the last"Old Bolsheviks" in theVoroshilov Nikolay Shvernlk, and Otto Kuusinen.

Among the ten nen now serving their apprenticeship in the ruling group as candidate members of tbe presidium,party secretary Petr Pospelov, planning boss Aleksey Kosygin, and RSFSR Premier Dmitry Polyansky probably have an edge in Influence because they reside in Moscow. Thecandidate members are, ln the main, regional orparty secretaries who are too far removed from the centers of decision-making to exert much influence.

Unlike Stalin's successors, who had long and widein the ruling group, the men who serve undorare,ule, relative newcomers to the top level. For the most part, their membership in the ruling group has dated from Khrushchev's political victory over his opponents in Because of their relatively brief tenure at the top level and their almost complete deference tothey have had very little opportunity to demonstrate the leadership qualities and to develop tho networks ofneeded to assure victory ln any contest for supreme power.

During the past two years, when the turnover ln the upper ranks of the hierarchy was virtually nil, lt appeared as if Khrushchev's subordinates were beginning to stabilize their positions and areas of responsibility in the leadership Only one full member of the presidium (Bulganln) was expelled from that body, while two candidate members (Polyansky and Podgorny) were added. In this same period the composition of


tho secretariat, all of vhose members serve Jointly in the presidium, remained unchanged. This situation contrasted sharply with the upheavals in the hierarchy that attended the struggle for power after Stalin's death.

Recent evonts, however, havo brought an end to this period of relative stability. Sinceconsolidation of his own position, Khrushchev has campaigned for theof ineffective leaders and for the infusion into the hierarchy of new blood from the younger political This campaign, which gained momentum last year,to take its toll among the senior leaders in tbe regional and republic hierarchies, the secret police, and the central party apparatus. By the end of the year It had reachedtop leadership Itself: Yanandidate member of the presidium, was replaced as Latvian first secretary, andull member of the presidium, was sharply criticized by Khrushchev for shortcomings as Kazak first secretary. Belyayev was subsequently removed from this post andess important position In the regional party hierarchy. These events highlight the fact that even those on whom Khrushchev has counted for support during his rise to power can no longer rest on their laurels.

The recent downgrading ofull member of the presidumember of the secretariat, showsthe unstable nature of the positions held by Khrushchev's subordinates. ong-time Ukrainian protege of Khrushchev who ascended rapidly inhierarchy on his patron's coat tails, Kirichenko was generally consideredof the two or three top ranking figures in the leadership after Khrushchev, as wellost promising candidate for the succession. Not only did he appear to possess the requisite qualities of youth, toughness, and ability, but be also seemed to besecurely inhierarchy as Khrushchev's understudy in the secretariat. Yet, desplto these outstanding political qualifications, he was suddenly transferredelatively minor regional party post. While his status in the presidium, like that of Kalnberzin and Belyayov, remains in doubt, he clearly haserious political reversal, since in his regional post he can no longer perform the vital dutiesentral party secretary.

The recent political shake-ups in tbe USSR reflect the pressures at work within the hierarchy. While continuing to


rcCiVU .vin'tm f.

insist on more vigorous leadership from his lieutenants, Khrushchev has held out promises of advancement to thepolitical generation knocking on tho door. As he put it when criticizing Belyayev, "Friendship is one thing, and work ist is quite normal toorker unable to cope with bis taskore able personore experienced organizer." By making efficiency ina major, if not the most important, criterion for success or failure, Khrushchev has generated pressures that are bound to lead to further changes in the top command.

The road appears to have been cleared for the peaceful retirement of the older members of the presidium from active political life. nd) have all passed their prime and can be expected to be replaced by younger men. Even If the older figures should retain their present positions until the next party congress scheduled next year, they would, by reason of ago alone, be out of tho running for the Pospelov, in bis mid-sixties, would also appear to be out of the running by reason of his lack of experience in organizational and personnel work.

Mlkoyan, although also In his mld-slxtles,tronger position than tho other older members of the presidium. He is second only to Khrushchev in prestige and Influence and acts as one of Khrushchev's principal confidants In bothand domestic affairs. Also, apart from Khrushchev, he Is the ablest and most widely experienced politician among the survivors of Stalin's polltburo. Moreover, heespected figure among both party leaders and influential quarters of the governmental bureaucracy.

The members of the ruling group now in their forties or fifties stand out as the strongest contenders in tho long run. Some of the members of this age group arc likely to retain strong potential influence oven if the succession isfor several more years or if the struggle for succession after Khrushchev's death is prolonged. In ts.-ms of career development, the members of this group have much In common. They all belong to the postrevolutlonary generation of party members who have distinguished themselves by theirand organizational talents. Most of them are partyspecializing in organizational management. Prosidium member Suslov is the only theoretician in the group, and only

Kosygin and Pervukhln, both candidate members, trace their careers back to tho state economic bureaucracy. Vith tho exception of Pervukhln, whose political fortunes have varied sharply In the post-Stalin period, all have until recently been beneficiaries of Khrushchev's rise to power.

The younger members of the presidium are distinguished from one another by the nature of their administrative The relative importance of these assignments, in terms of access to the main levers of power andfor building up personal followings,onsiderable bearing on the contenders' prospects. From the standpoint of their assignments, tbe younger members of tbe presidium may be divided into the following groups:







Of the three groups, the central party secretariesto have the best opportunities for building up personal followings in the major party organs. As members of thethey are concerned with the machine that has the greatest amount of patronage to dispense. Furthermore, as full members of the presidium with assignments instatus enjoyed by Kozlov alone among the younger leaders who areonsiderable share in the decision-making process.

The secretariat members who concentrate on organizational and personnel questions affecting the party and government are probably better situated fcr any test of strength than those whose responsibilities fall in other fields. Party secretaries Arlstov, Ignatov, and Brezhnev, men with broad experience ln party leadership at the regional and republic levels, appear to be the leading contenders within the secretariat at the present time. They belong to tho breed of tough, aggressive, multlcompetent operators who have formed the bulwark ofsupport in the party and who have risen rapidly ln the hierarchy under his patronage.

Arlstov nowivotal position in theserving as Khrushchev's deputy ln the RSFSR party bureau. This is the organ which exercises central control over party affairs in the Russian Republic, by far the most important republic. This post offers unique opportunities for buildingersonal following among party caroerists and influential party members in the RSFSR. Ignatov and Brezhnev also bear watching. They carried out important trouble-shooting assignments for Khrushchev early ln the post-Stalinin Leningrad and Brezhnev lnthey now oversee key sectors of the economy: Ignatov supervises agriculture; Brezhnev, heavy industry. Ignatov hasarticularly strong comeback since his return to full-tino work in the secretariat late last year. On two recent occasions, for example, he was ranked ahead cf Arlstov in tho pressa good indicator of status. artime political officer in the armed forces in the Ukraine, has also figured prominently ln public functions. It is believed that one of his responsibilities has been for party work in the armod forces and paramilitary organizations.

Among the remaining central party secretaries, Furtseva and Mukhitdlnov can probably be counted out of the running on grounds of .sex and nationality, respectively. The latter, an Uzbek, has served primarily as an instrument of Khrushchev's diplomacy in the Moslem world. Finally, there is Suslov, the ranking member of the secretariat ln terms of tenure. Heconsiderable prestige and influence in the leadership, operating as the presidium specialist in ideological affairs and international Communist activities. He appears to be handicapped, however,olorless personality and by lack of experience in the more important sectors of party work. He would thus appear to be ill-equipped to maneuverarger share of power than he now holds.

The second group of younger presidium members, theor republic party secretaries, are not considered serious contenders for the succession at present. Kirichenko and Belyayev, the most prominent figures In this group, occupy lower rungs ln the ladder of status. Most of the others have bad limited experience outside their present bailiwicks and honce little opportunity for empire-building. While theparty posts have traditionally served as steps to higher office, they are too far removed from the centers of


power to grant their incumbents much leverage at thelevel. As long aa these men are assigned to their present posts, there Is no point in speculating about their prospocts.

Tbe third group of younger presidium ncmbers, theadministrators, does contain two promising contenders for tho succession. First Deputy Premier Kozlov and RSFSR Premier Polyansky. Both are party careerists who have risen very rapidly in thewas formerly party boss of the Leningrad area; Polyansky held secretarial posts in tbe Ukraine andboth are relative newcomers in the government bureaucracy. Kozlov left Leningrado become RSFSR premier and was roplaced by Polyansky three months later when he became first deputy premier under Khrushchev. The assignment of party careerists to leading positions In the government is part of Khrushchev's policy of ruling through domination by tho party, but it also reflects the increased importance Khrushchev attaches to the govornment.

The career prospects of Kozlov and Polyansky do notto have been retarded by their assignments towork. Both men still retain important direct andties with the party machine: Polyansky and two of Kozlov's former Leningrad associates are members of theRSFSR party bureau. Kozlov in particular has emergedrominent figure in the national political scene,close working relations with Khrushchev and benefitting from the latter's patronage.

Pervukhin, the Soviet ambassador to East Germany, andeputy premier and chief of Gosplan, do not appear to have good prospocts in tho competition for the succession. Pervukhin hasharp decline in status since his involvement with tbe defeated opponents of Khrushchev, and bis chances for recovering lost ground are slim. Kosygin has come into prominence recentlyesult of hisadministrative talents, rather than for his prowessolitician. Even though he may be called on toarger role in the regime, he soems destined to remain among tho secondary figures, whose talents are needed by thein power to carry out the complex practical tasks of managing the nation.

Tne Outlook

The recent political changett havo highlighted theconfronting the contenders for succession. After

a relatively quiescent period of nearly two years, change has once store become the order of the day in the upper ranks of the hierarchy. The aen who won high places in the regime through allegiance to Khrushchev are now under heavyfrom above and below to demonstrate other talents as well. In order to survive the rugged test ahead, they must maintain unswerving loyalty to Khrushchev and at the same time prove to be capable administrators. Above all, lnfor favor and influence, Khrushchev'smust avoid staking premature claims on the succesion.

On present evidence, it ia impossible to predict the outcome of any personal contest for supreme power afterdeath. The recent reshuffling in the hierarchy clearly upset the power relationships among the aen around Khrushchev and left the issue of the succession notably Although the career prospects of some of the youngerKozlov andto have been enhanced by the recent events, these personal gains may not be stable. Against tho background of the pressures already at work ln Soviet political life, there is every reason to believe that before Khrushchev departs from the scene, new figures will emerge into prominence in thereplacing the older men and further complicating the issue of the succession.

Despite the gradations of rank and influence separating the men around Khrushchev, no single individual now Isosition to assume all his powers. Indeed, it is highly doubtful whether any of his subordinates, if Khrushchev were to die now, could Independently attainosition in the near future.

In the interest ofmooth and orderlyKhrushchev might seek to foster the career prospects of one of his favorites. rivate conversation last year he said that both he and Mikoyan favored Kozlov as hisand he flatly rejected Kirichenkouitable Subsequentincreased prominence in public affairs, the promotion of some of his formerassociates to Influential positions, the demotion of Kirichenko, and tbe eclipse of several other figures with Ukrainianto give substance to Khrushchev' remarks. Altbough the evidence is inconclusive, Khrushchev may be manipulating the succession in Kozlov's favor.


Whether Khrushchev will actually allow Kozlov or anyone else toosition as heir apparent remains to be seen. Tomooth succession, Khrushchev would have toa considerable part of his own pover to his chosen heir; this would permit the latter to replace tho secondary figures created by Khrushchev with men of his own choosing. Even ifelicate process of political change were carried out gradually, it would still be an extremely hazardous enterprise, threatening eventually to imperil Khrushchev's own position. It Is doubtful whether any transitional arrangements laid down by Khrushchev that fell short of an actual transfer of supreme power from his hands could carry sufficient force to survive his passing from tho scene.

Whatever the long-term prospects for thewhich in any case depend on contingencies that cannot now beshort-term outlook appears to be fairly clear. If Khrushchev should die or become incapacitated in the near future, his successors would almost certainly have to share in the disposition of his legacy. The formula of "collective Leadership," In disuse during the period of Khrushchev'swould probably again be revivedymbol of legitimacy reflecting the divided and uncertain distribution of power. Although Khrushchev's successors would probably be united in their intent to deny any single individual fulltbey mightransitional figure with limited Mlkoyan would qualify asandidate and could conceivably emerge as the nominal headaretaker regimetruggle for primacy was being waged among the younger members of the hierarchy.

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic: