March 27th 1958: Khrushchev becomes Soviet Premier
On this day in 1958, Nikita Khrushchev became head of the government of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev served as Premier of the world’s first Communist state from 1958 to 1964. He, along with Lenin and Stalin, are the only Premiers to also have been party leader simultaneously. Under Khrushchev, Russia was partially de-Stalinised, which was a core policy of the Premier who vociferously denounced his predecessor’s dangerous ‘cult of personality’. However, the accession of Khrushchev did not ease the tensions of the Cold War, and during his tenure Russia escalated its space program to compete with the United States in the ‘Space Race’. Russia had successfully launched the first satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, but now sought to put a man in space, which they did in 1961. It was also under Khrushchev that the Cold War came the closest to breaking out into fully fledged war, with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963. Khrushchev was deposed by party colleagues in 1964 and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary of the Communist Party and by Alexei Kosygin as Premier.