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Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Central Committee, abbreviated in Russian as ЦК, "Tseka", was the highest body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Its full name was Центра́льный Комите́т Коммунисти́ческой Па́ртии Сове́тского Сою́за = ЦК КПСС, or the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
According to Party rules, the Central Committee directed all Party and government activities between each Party Congress with the Politburo elected by and reporting to the Central Committee. Members of the committee were elected at the Party Congress every five years.
For most of its existence, the power of the Central Committee was limited by its infrequent meetings and large membership, and true power lay with the Politburo. The Committee functioned as a rubber-stamp to legitimise and give an aura of consensus to Politburo decisions. The Committee would meet only twice a year, with sessions lasting one or two days. Special plenary sessions would be held before a major event, such as a new long-term plan or the selection of a new General Secretary. The elections were fašades too, with the membership being selected in advance by the leaders.
From 1917 to 1934, the Central Committee did act as a parliament. But its occasional opposition to Stalin led to a purge of the body between the 17th and 18th Party Congresses (1934-39). Until Stalin's death, its role was therefore almost non-existent. After Stalin's death, there was a period of collective leadership, which revitalised the Committee before it was returned to its compliant role. However the Committee did play a critical role in the career of Nikita Khrushchev. In 1957, the Central Committee played a critical role when it overturned a decision by the Presidium (ie the Politburo) to remove Nikita Khrushchev as party leader. Khrushchev, with the assistance of Marshal Zhukov, rallied the support of the Central Committee against what he called the Anti-Party Group. Seven years later, on October 14, 1964 it was a meeting of the Central Committee that deposed Khrushchev. The Central Committee also made a landmark decision in March 1985 when it elected the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev as the next General Secretary of CPSU with the margin of just one vote more than the hardliner Viktor Grishin.
Following the failed coup of August 1991, the Central Committee was dissolved as was the Communist Party itself.
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