Stalin died without naming an heir, and none of his associates had the power to immediately claim supreme leadership. The deceased dictator's colleagues initially tried to rule jointly through collective leadership, with Malenkov holding the top positions of prime minister and general secretary. Lavrenti Beria took over Ministry of Interior and also became the first deputy prime minister. Molotov became foreign minister and, like Beria, a first deputy prime minister. These three formed the uneasy triumvirate. (Modern Enc.. and Kort)
To prevent Malenkov from gaining to much power, he was stripped of his duties as First Secretary. These duties in turn were handed to Nikita Khrushchev, a longtime party boss of the Ukraine and the first secretary of the party's Moscow organization, who was not seen as a serious candidate for supreme power. (Kort) Khrushchev had two advantages over his associates, the right to appoint his trusted followers to key positions and the right to demote those he distrusted. To succeed Khrushchev had to remove his two principal rivals. He removed Beria quickly with the help of other colleagues who feared Beria. On April 4, 1953 Beria was forced to admit that his men had fabricated the "Doctors plot" that resulted in the arrest and death of several
physicians. Beria himself was secretly arrested on June 26. He was denounced as an "enemy of the people" and was charged with a number of crimes including that of careerist and traitor. He confessed, was tried without being present or represented, found guilty and executed.
After the elimination of... [continues]
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