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Nikita Khrushchev

Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich 1894-1971, Soviet leader. Of Ukrainian peasant origin, he joined the Communist party in 1918, becoming a member of its central committee in 1934.

As first secretary of the Ukrainian party (from 1938) he carried out STALIN’s purge of its ranks. As a full member of the politburo (after 1939) he was a close associate of Stalin. In the power struggle after Stalin’s death (1953) he emerged as first secretary of the party.

At the 1956 party congress he delivered a secret report denouncing Stalin’s policies and personality. The new atmosphere of freedom, however, led to uprisings in Poland and Hungary that year. In 1957 he replaced BULGANIN as premier, becoming head of both state and party. As part of his policy of peaceful coexistence in the COLD WAR, he toured the U.S. in 1959 and met with Pres. EISENHOWER; but in 1960 he canceled the Paris summit conference after a U.S. reconnaissance plane was shot down over the USSR.

Repeated crop failures, his retreat in the CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (1962), and the ideological rift with China led to his removal from power in Oct. 1964.

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