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Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Khrushchev was born to a working class family in a province of Ukraine on 17 April 1894. He rose through the ranks of the Russian Communist Party to become a member of the Politburo in 1939. After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, Khrushchev won a power struggle among

Stalin’s successors and consolidated his political power all over the Soviet Union.

In relations with the West, Khrushchev's tenure was marked by a series of high-stakes crises: the U-2 affair, the building of

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the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban Missile crisis. At the same time, he was the first Soviet leader to advocate "peaceful coexistence" with the West, and to negotiate with the United States on reducing Cold War tensions.

By 1964, his reforms had alienated too many powerful Soviet constituencies. A group of conservatives led by Leonid Brezhnev ousted Khrushchev, and he retired to a dacha in rural Russia, where he died on 11 September 1971.