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Malenkov Named New Soviet Leader, The New York Times, 7 March 1953

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"Malenkov Named New Soviet Leader", The New York Times, 7 March 1953. The headlines read in English: “Malenkov is named new Soviet Premier; Wide changes disclosed to avoid “panic”; Throngs pass Stalin bier; Rites Monday”; “Vishinsky departs. Pays a Tearful Tribute to Stalin and Sails – Silent on Shake-Up”; “Gromyko sent here. U.N. Hears Indonesian Appeal for Eisenhower and Malenkov to Talk”; “Huge funeral set. Body to be placed With Lenin’s in Red Square After Ceremonies”; “Memorial planned. New Pantheon Is Due – Mourners in Moscow Offer Quiet Homage”; “Four to help rule. Beria, Molotov, Bulganin and Kaganovich Are Deputy Premiers”; “Ten-men Presidium. Molotov Is Again Foreign Minister – Vishinsky Demoted to U.N.”.

1By the time of Stalin's death Georgii Malenkov had largely taken control of the state and party apparatus. As the head of the Soviet government, he supervised the work of the governments of the Union republics. He influenced the formation of the agenda, gave the party apparatus, led by Nikita Khrushchev, orders to engage in certain matters, guided the discussion of these issues and formulated the final decrees.

2Along with Lavrenti Beria (although questions remain about Beria’s recent proximity to Stalin) Malenkov managed to become one of the people closest to Stalin in the last years of the leader’s life. He was on good terms with the majority of Stalin's associates. Anastas Mikoyan, Stalin’s and Khrushchev’s comrade, later characterized Malenkov as "an educated electrical engineer, cultured (kul’turnyi), savvy, able to deal with people." According to Mikoyan, Malenkov was never rude, behaved modestly and was "very afraid of Stalin and was ready to do the impossible to strictly comply with any of his instructions."

3Russian historians have noted the lack of independence of Malenkov as a political figure. According to the famous historian and dissident Roy Medvedev, Malenkov was a man "without a biography", "who had neither his own face nor his own style;” he was "an instrument of Stalin." He had been on the sidelines for too long to act on his own and he did not possess Stalin’s will and determination. Ordinary Soviet citizens used to say that Malenkov gave the impression of an educated person but was, at the same time, close to the people. However, most persons did not delve into the reasons for his promotion to a senior position, considering "They, up there, will get it sorted out by themselves”.

4It was obvious for the nation that none of the leaders was capable of fully replacing Stalin.


Yuri Aksiutin, “Khrushchevskaya ‘ottepel’ ‘ i obschchestvennye nastroeniya v SSSR v 1953-1964, Moskva: Rossiiskaya politicheskaya entsyklopediya, 2010, (last quotation, p. 33-34).

Anastas Mikoyan, Tak Bylo: Razmyshleniya o minuvshem, Moscow: Vagrius, 1999, (quotation p. 320).

Roy Medvedev, All Stalin’s Men, Garden City: Doubleday, 1984, (quotation from Russian edition, p 277).

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