Anti-Party Group


Anti-Party Group

The Anti-Party Group was an epithet used by Nikita Khrushchev to describe Stalinist members of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was led by Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Georgy Malenkov and joined by Dmitri Shepilov at the last minute after Kaganovich convinced him the group had a majority, and they attempted to depose Khrushchev as First Secretary of the Party in May 1957.

The Stalinists rejected both Khrushchev's liberalisation of Soviet society and his denunciation of the personality cult of Stalin and Stalin's crimes.

Many regarded Khruschev's attacks on Stalin, most famously in the Secret Speech delivered at the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956 as hypocritical as well as ideologically wrong, given Khrushchev's complete complicity in the Great Purge, and similar events as one of Stalin's favourites. They believed that Khrushchev's policy of peaceful coexistence would leave the Soviet Union open to attack. In addition, they feared for their careers and possibly their lives in the continuing de-Stalinisation of Soviet life.

The "Anti-Party Group" won a vote in the Presidium to replace Khrushchev as party leader with Premier Nikolai Bulganin. Khrushchev, with the backing of Defense Minister Georgy Zhukov, argued that only the Central Committee could remove him from office.

At an extraordinary session of the Central Committee held in late June, Khrushchev argued that his opponents were an anti-Party group and won a vote which reaffirmed his position as First Secretary and expelled Molotov, Kaganovich and Malenkov from the Presidium and ultimately from the Communist Party itself. In 1958, Bulganin was forced to retire, with Khrushchev then becoming Premier as well as First Secretary.

The defeat of the Anti-Party Group marked a new departure in Soviet politics as it established the primacy of political maneuvering over the use of force. In the stormy meeting of the CPSU, Zhukov had come close to threatening the oppositionists with force (even as he denounced them for having the blood of Stalin's victims on their hands) but in fact there were no killings or even show trials following Khruschev's triumph. Instead, the members of the Anti-Party group were "retired", with some of them being given relatively unimportant positions (Kaganovich was made the director of a small potassium factory in the Urals, Molotov was made ambassador to Mongolia, Malenkov was made director of a hydroelectric plant in Kazakhstan and Shepilov was sent to Kirgizstan to head the Economics Institute of the local Academy of Sciences). They all lived mostly quiet lives from then on, with Molotov and Kaganovich becoming pensioners by 1962, Shepilov remaining on the sidelines even after being allowed to rejoin the CPSU in 1976, and Malenkov living the remainder of his life completely removed from politics.

External links

* [http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?action=L3&ArticleID=1956anti1&SubjectID=1956antiparty&Year=1956 Khrushchev Expels the 'Anti-Party Group'] Central Committee decree on the Anti-Party Group, June 29, 1957
* ISBN 5-264-00505-2


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