A general theme in transitions of power is this, “out with the old, in with the new.” Following his ascension to First Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev pursued a policy of De-Stalinization and decentralization. These policies bolstered Khrushchev’s position within the party as well as dismantled Stalin’s lasting influence in Soviet politics. One controversial move by Khrushchev was the establishment of 107 regional economic councils, sovnarkhozy, corresponding to the territorial divisions of oblasts and autonomous republics (The Anti Party Group). Freeze points out, “The underlying idea was to bring decision-making closer to the enterprise to ensure better management and greater productivity” (p. 422).
Good intentions aside, this policy disgruntled many within the Presidium, which Freeze describes as “…represented old party elites and entrenched officialdom in Moscow” (p. 422). Soon, a majority faction formed within the Presidium and attempted to vote Khrushchev out of power (Freeze, p. 422). This faction included many powerful figures, such as Viacheslav Molotov, former Foreign Minister and no friend of Khrushchev, Lazar Kaganovich and Georgii Malenkov, former Premier after Stalin (Freeze, p. 422). Khrushchev however called for a vote within the Central Committee, which he insisted was capable of removing him from office (Freeze, p. 422). With the support of Minister of Defense, Georgii Zhukov, members of the Central Committee were escorted to Moscow by military transports (The Anti Party Group). The vote turned into a denouncement of Khrushchev’s opponents, labeling them as “the anti-party group” (Freeze, p. 422). Conspirators were forced to resign and assumed minor roles away from Moscow (The Anti Party Group). For example, Molotov was assigned as ambassador to Mongolia.
What interested me most about this event was the fate of loyal Zhukov. Zhukov was made a full member of the Presidium in mid-1957 (The Anti Party Group). However, in October, Zhukov was removed from office and accused of starting a “cult of Comrade G. K. Zhukov” (Freeze, p. 423). Despite his loyal and service to his country, Zhukov was quickly removed from the spotlight.
Freeze, Gregory. Russia a History. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press. 2009.
Siegelbaum, Lewis. The Anti Party Group. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1956-2/the-anti-party-group/
Nikita Khrushchev: 1957. Time Inc. http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2019712_2019694_2019593,00.html