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Leonid Brezhnev

Leonid Ilych Brezhnev (Леонид Ильич Брежнев, December 19, 1906 - November 10, 1982) was a Soviet politician and First/General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who was born in Kamenskoye (now Dneprodzerzhinsk) in the Ukraine.

As both head of the Communist Party since 1964 and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1977 until his death in 1982, Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union longer than any previous leader except Stalin. Communists say that the Soviet Union, under his leadership, improved the standards of living by raising urban salaries by around 75%, doubling rural wages, building millions of one-family apartments, and manufacturing large quantities of consumer goods and home appliances. Under his tutelage, industrial output also increased by 75%, and the Soviet Union became the world's largest producer of oil and steel. Others note the economic inefficiency that became notorious under Brezhnev, the repression of those who disagreed with the Soviet regime and the environmental vandalism that occurred throughout the country.

He also introduced the Brezhnev Doctrine, which stated:

"When forces that are hostile to socialism and try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries."

This effectively meant that no country was allowed to leave the Warsaw pact, and the doctrine was used to justify the invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979.

In 1988, the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev officially abandoned the doctrine and replaced it with the Sinatra Doctrine in which each nation was allowed to develop in their own way.

See also: Brezhnev Constitution

Preceded by:
Nikita Khrushchev
List of leaders of the Soviet Union Succeeded by:
Yuri Andropov