The Soviet Union was one of the dominant political entities of the twentieth century. The Russian Revolution saw the emergence of the largest communist organization in the whole world led by Lenin - the Communist Party. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was legally the single largest ruling political party in the Soviet Union however it lost its dominance and power after the failed August 1991 coup d'etat attempt led by communist hardliners. The Soviet Union got disintegrated in 1992 into several factions thus bringing an end to the communist regime. But during the Communist regime of 1917 to 1992, the Soviet Union saw several leaders who were instrumental in making USSR a power to reckon with.
Vladimir Lenin is considered to be the founder and guiding spirit behind the Communist Rule in Russia. He was an ardent follower of Karl Marx, the father of communism. Lenin gave the first communist government to Russia in November 1917 when he overthrew the Provisional Government after the October Revolution which signified the end of the autocratic rule in Russia. His contribution to Russia's history is significant. Lenin was considered a prophet by some and by others a tyrant. In all ways, he was a powerful orator and could easily convince people into his way of thinking. He reshaped Russia by applying path-breaking communist ideas to real life thereby scripting history.
Stalin was the second leader of the Soviet Union. His real name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzughasvili . The name Stalin was a self-proclaimed nickname which meant "The Steel Lenin". His childhood memories were filled with pain as he was beaten frequently by his father and this made him vengeful of people in authority. Not surprisingly, he joined the socialist movement of Lenin and steadily rose the ranks to become the General Secretary of the party. After Lenin's death in 1924, he fought for the party's leadership and assumed the role of leader in 1928. Stalin was known as a terror and a powerful dictator who mass murdered innocent people and sent many to prison. He is also known to have industrialised the Soviet Union so that they could resist the German invasion.
Georgy Melankov was a prominent Soviet politician and a close aide of Stalin. He was literally the virtual head of the USSR from 1953 to 1955. Having joined the communist party in 1925, his work was noticed by Stalin and was promoted in 1934 to head the organizational department of the Moscow committee of the Communist Party. He remained a close aide to Stalin and virtually became the second highest ranking person in the Communist Party. He became the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR after Stalin's death and remained in office for 2 years in which he brought a lot of changes and reforms.
Nikita Khrushchev's association with the Communist Party began after World War I when he was part of the Communist Party and the Red Army besides fighting the civil war. Subsequently he attended a Communist Party high school in 1921 and worked as a political organizer. Shortly later with Stalin's favoritism, he rose to power with World War II. When Stalin died in 1953, Nikita assumed the leadership of the country after a struggle for 5 years. He tried to raise the standard of living of the Soviet People and expand the country's space program. He is famous for the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 wherein he conceived the idea of placing nuclear missiles in Cuba to restore the power balance in the Cold War with the USA. He remained relentless despite the US threatening to invade Cuba. He also managed to finally sign a peace treaty with them so that they would not invade Cuba. But this was seen as a major loss by other Soviet higher ups and subsequent economic failure led to his ousting.
Leonid Brezhnev was the party secretary in1952 and was a protege of Nikita Krushchnev. He joined the Communist Party in 1931 and steadily rose in its hierarchy to become Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. He was responsible for Krushchnev's fall from power after which he emerged as the chief figure in Soviet Politics. With his "Brezhnev doctrine", he asserted the power of the USSR to interfere in domestic affairs of any of the nations of the Soviet bloc, if Communist rule was threatened. Brezhnev's regime was highly criticized by Mikhail Gorbachev for its failed economic policies and corruption.
Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union before it perished in 1995. The son of a an agricultural mechanic, he was introduced to communist ideas by his grandfather who was a staunch supporter of the CPSU. He was the youngest member of the Politburo and was actively promoted by both Andropov Yuri and Konstantin Chernenko in his career. After Chernenko's death he was elected as General Secretary of the Communist Party. He introduced the concept of Peristroika which gave way to a series of liberalizing economic, political and cultural reforms to make the Soviet economy more effective. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1990 but had to resign in 1995 after having survived a coup by soviet powers in 1991.