Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the executive leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, acting between sessions of Congress. According to party statutes, the committee directed all party and governmental activities. Its members were elected by the Party Congress.
|Child organs||Central Committee Commissions, Central Committee Departments, Politburo, Orgburo, Secretariat and party bodies in general|
|Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow Kremlin|
(Plenum Meeting Place)
During Vladimir Lenin's leadership of the Communist Party, the Central Committee functioned as the highest party authority between Congresses. However, the 8th Party Congress (held in 1919) established the Political Bureau (Politburo) to respond to questions needing immediate responses. Some delegates objected to the establishment of the Politburo, and in response, the Politburo became responsible to the Central Committee, and Central Committee members could participate in Politburo sessions with a consultative voice, but could not vote unless they were members. Following Lenin's death in January 1924, Joseph Stalin gradually increased his power in the Communist Party through the office of General Secretary of the Central Committee, the leading Secretary of the Secretariat. With Stalin's takeover, the role of the Central Committee was eclipsed by the Politburo, which consisted of a small clique of loyal Stalinists.
By the time of Stalin's death in 1953, the Central Committee had become largely a symbolic organ that was responsible to the Politburo, and not the other way around. The death of Stalin revitalised the Central Committee, and it became an important institution during the power struggle to succeed Stalin. Following Nikita Khrushchev's accession to power, the Central Committee still played a leading role; it overturned the Politburo's decision to remove Khrushchev from office in 1957. In 1964 the Central Committee ousted Khrushchev from power and elected Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary. The Central Committee was an important organ in the beginning of Brezhnev's rule, but lost effective power to the Politburo. From then on, until the era of Mikhail Gorbachev (General Secretary from 1985 to 1991), the Central Committee played a minor role in the running of the party and state – the Politburo once again operated as the highest political organ in the Soviet Union.
For the majority of Central Committee's history, plenums were held in the meeting chamber of the Soviet of the Union in the Grand Kremlin Palace. The offices of the administrative staff of the Central Committee were located in the 4th building of Staraya Square in Moscow, in what is now the Russian Presidential Administration Building.