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Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev

soviet party

Brezhnev, Leonid Ilyich (1906–82), USSR political leader, who became first secretary of the Communist Party and effective head of the Soviet government in 1964. He first became a member of the party central committee in 1952, and was chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet 1960–64. Brezhnev, Aleksei Kosygin, and Nikolai Podgorny took control when Nikita Khrushchev was ousted in 1964. Brezhnev assumed the additional office of chief of state in 1977. He pursued a policy of détente with the West while overseeing a massive Soviet military buildup.

See also: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

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