Marxists Internet Archive: K. Chernenko



Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko -Russian: Константин Устинович Черненко- (24 September 1911 – 10 March 1985) was a Soviet politician and the fifth General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He led the Soviet Union from 13 February 1984 until his death on 10 March 1985.

  The son of a Siberian peasant family, Chernenko entered the Communist Party in 1931.  His work in the anti-Kulak campaigns of the 1930s elevated him to the party leadership in Krasnoyarsk.  He was subsequently named First Secretary of the Krasnoyarsk CP in 1941.

Later, between 1948 and 1956, he led the party propaganda department in the Moldova RSS.  In 1956 he was named to lead the propaganda arm of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and in 1960 as head of the Politburo's human resources department. 

In 1976, during the tenure of his longtime friend, Leonid Brezhnev, Chernenko ascended to the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee, and in 1978 to a seat on the Politburo.

In 1984, upon Yuri Andropov's death, Chernenko was selected to succeeded him as General Secretary of the CPSU, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and President of the Defense Council, thus becoming the Soviet Union's chief of state.

Though widely regarded as marking a return to the Brezhnev era, during his tenure as chief of state Chernenko did institute educational reforms and structural adjustments to the state bureaucracy, and advocated a greater role for labor unions. He also aided rapprochement with the People's Republic of China through the negotiation of  a commercial agreement.

Beset with health problems, he was increasingly absent from government meetings.  He died in Moscow in 1985.




1977: Soviet Democracy: Principles and Practice

1984: Speech at the extraordinary plenary meeting of the CPSU Central Committee

1984: Speech at the plenary meeting of the CPSU Central Committee

1984: Party and People United. Speech to voters of the Kuibyshev District

1984: Message to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

1984: Address to Bulgarian Readers

1984: "To the American Reader" (Preface to Soviet-U.S. Relations: The Selected Writings and Speeches of Konstantin U. Chernenko)

1984: SPACE: Excerpts from Speeches, Replies and Interviews