- Following victory in World War II, competition within Joseph Stalin’s entourage grew. Communist Party secretary Georgii Malenkov and security police generalissimo Lavrenty Beria especially feared two younger competitors. State economic chief Nikolai Voznesenskiy and Stalin’s personal favorite and former Leningrad party boss Aleksei Kuznetzov were the target of rumors spread by the old elite that the two were guilty of fixing a party election; they were also accused of managerial incompetence. Stalin ordered Viktor Abakumov to investigate the two in the summer of 1948. In August 1949 Kuznetzov and Voznesenskiy and more than 200 of their colleagues from the Leningrad party apparatus were arrested. They were tried in camera on 30 September 1950, and many were shot the same evening. Abakumov apparently played on Stalin’s suspicions that Leningraders sought to build a Russian political party and navigate a separate political course for Russia. Among the casualties of Stalin’s paranoia were party, military, and security officials who had defended Leningrad during the epic 900-day siege. During the siege, Stalin had told Kuznetzov, who had spent the war in Leningrad: “The motherland will never forget you.” Yet all were accused of treasonously planning to form a counterrevolutionary Russian government and tortured into confessing that they had betrayed the motherland they had defended during the war. The Leningrad Case also suggests how Stalin in his dotage was both the manipulator and manipulated. Willing to sacrifice acolytes and associates to maintain the balance of power and terror in his entourage, he struck down the most competent members of the party leadership.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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