October 1964 Coup

   The KGB played a critical role in removing Nikita Khrushchev from power in October 1964. Many KGB professionals were concerned with Khrushchev’s style of leadership, and senior KGB officers readily agreed with party conservatives led by Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Suslov that he had to be removed for the good of the Communist Party and the Soviet state. The plot took shape over several months as the conspirators built support. Khrushchev’s son sought to warn his father, but Khrushchev believed that his colleagues were too incompetent and cowardly to act. The plot was simple: have the KGB chair isolate Khrushchev on his return from vacation; convene a plenum of the Central Committee to convict Khrushchev of “adventurism”; and place the former leader under dignified house arrest. It went exactly as planned: Khrushchev’s plane was met by KGB Chair Vladimir Semichastniy, who whisked Khrushchev off to the Kremlin to face a humiliating trial. After two days of personal attacks, Brezhnev was anointed party leader and Khrushchev became a “nonperson.”
   In 1991 the KGB helped party conservatives in the August putsch against General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. Times had changed, however, and the tactics that worked smoothly in 1964 failed badly in 1991.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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