Malenkov, Aide to Stalin in ‘30s Purge Era, Dies

Associated Press

Georgi M. Malenkov, the right-hand man to Josef Stalin during the purges of the 1930s who was pushed aside by Nikita S. Khrushchev in a Kremlin power struggle, has died at age 86, the government said today.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov said Malenkov died a few days ago. Gerasimov gave no specifics, and no further details on Malenkov’s death were available immediately.

Malenkov had briefly appeared to be Stalin’s heir apparent. He served as premier for two years after Stalin’s death in 1953, but lost out to Khrushchev.


Malenkov was removed from his top posts as premier and first secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee in 1955, publicly confessing to having followed the wrong policies.

In 1957, he was thrown out of the ruling Politburo and off the Central Committee, and there were frequent rumors that he had been shot. He apparently ended his career as a manager of a hydroelectric station in a small town in east Kazakhstan.

In 1934, he was named chief of the party Personnel Department. It was in this post that he directed much of the administrative work of Stalin’s purges. Historians and Kremlinologists believe he took an active part in choosing people for removal and selecting their successors. Millions were killed or sent to labor camps beginning in the 1930s.

Ascends to Power

Two days after Stalin died on March 5, 1953, Malenkov became premier as well as senior secretary of the Central Committee.

He proclaimed “a new life for all,” calling for increased production of consumer goods and new housing. By offering such a proposal, he made enemies among the military and heavy industry lobby.

Malenkov also proposed a more moderate foreign policy, in an effort to steer the Soviet leadership away from the Leninist doctrine that war between socialism and capitalism was inevitable. Malenkov said that in the age of nuclear weapons, civilization would be destroyed by such a war, but Khrushchev denounced this idea as revisionist.


Khrushchev and other powerful members of the Soviet leadership quickly forced Malenkov from his Central Committee post.

Later, Khrushchev adopted Malenkov’s proposals for greater output of consumer goods and peaceful coexistence with capitalist nations.