The USSR from Stalin to Gorbachev - Statistics by Topic

This is a very similar resource to my timeline of statistics that can be found below, apart from I have rearranged all the information to be by topic instead of by leader. That way it may be useful for the third question on the aqa exam, which sweeps the entire timescale based on a specific theme (e.g. the strength of the economy between 1945 and 1991).

I hope it's useful.

The timeline:

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The Collapse of the USSR ­ By topic
Political Structure:
1937 Stalin's purge ­ 35,000 officers were imprisoned or shot
October 1942 Commissars were abolished in small units so those with proper expertise
could prevail.
After 1948 Stalin withdrew from the public limelight and made only one important speech
­ hysterical isolationism and paranoia.
Purge of the Leningrad Communist Party in 1949 carried out by the secret police under
Beria, leading to the arrest of thousands, e.g. leading Communist Kuzntesov.
1952 Stalin replaced the Poitburo with a larger Presidium.
Mingrelian case of 1951 showed that Stalin believed that Beria, the abusive head of the
NKV, was becoming too powerful. Beria came from Mingrelia and when a number of
important Mingrelians were arrested, he was ironically put in charge of the investigation.
Stalin died on 5th March 1953, after 25 years of rule.
Between 1953 and 1956 Khrushchev used his position as Secretary of the Central
Committee to replace over half of the secretaries of the republics and regional party
24th February 1956 ­ Khrushchev's `Secret Speech' ­ at a closed session of the 20th
Party Congress Khrushchev delivered a speech on the subject "the cult of the individual and
its consequences", listing Stalin's crimes (including "mass arrests and deportations of
thousands of people, execution without trial...").
In 1957 the Party voted 7:4 for Khrushchev's dismissal from the role of Party Secretary
but Khrushchev overcame this by using his position and rallying his supporters.
October 1964 Khrushchev went on holiday to the Black Sea but was summoned to a
meeting where his leadership was attacked and he was forced into retirement.
In 1966 Brezhnev took the former Stalinist title of General Secretary of the Party (rather than
First Secretary), while the Presidium reverted to its previous name of the Politburo.
By 1972 it became clear that Brezhnev was in charge of the USSR, even though he had
been supposedly sharing the leadership with Kosygin.
The Constitution of 1977 ­ gave the Communist Party a much higher profile, as "the
leading and guiding force of Soviet society and the nucleus of its political system, its state
organisations and public organisations." It also noted that the elections to the Supreme Soviet
were to take place every five years instead of four.
In 1977 Party membership was around 16 million.
In 1981 Party membership was around 17.4 million.
By February 1984 he had already replaced about 1/5 of party secretaries and ministers and
about 1/3 of department heads of the secretariat of the Central Committee.
9th February 1984 After experiencing rapidly deteriorating health, Andropov died before he
could secure Gorbachev as his successor.
February 1984 Chernenko was aged 72 and was already terminally ill with emphysema
when he came to power.
December 1984 ­ The only change to membership of the Politburo under Chernenko
occurred with the death of Ustinov, who wasn't even replaced.

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The only significant policy innovation was the approval of a scheme to turn several
northflowing rivers down southwards towards the Soviet republics of Central Asia, which
was ecologically dubious.
A new Party Programme was drafted (of little practical relevance), which led to debates
over the nature of socialism.
March 1985 Chernenko died following a heart attack after a mere 13 months in charge.
Dmitri Volkaganov stated "Chernenko was not capable of leading the country or the
Party into the future.…read more

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In March 1991 a referendum on the subject of a new union treaty indicated that 76.4% of
voters were in favour of the Soviet Union (although 6 republics refused to take part). 70%
were also in favour of an elected Russian President.
12th June 1991 Yeltsin was formally elected President of the Russian Federation. The
man who came bottom was the communist Bakatin, with just 3% of the vote.
June 1991 American Secretary of State James Barker warned Gorbachev of signs of an
upcoming coup.…read more

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Between 1953 and 1956 there was a rise of 25% in the price of grain procurements.
1953 Khrushchev launched the `Virgin Land Scheme'. Over 250,000 volunteers enlisted,
12,000 tractors were provided and 6 million acres were freshly ploughed in the first year of
the scheme.
Between 1955 and 1965 coal increased from 391 million tons to 578 million, tractor
production increased from 314,000 to 804,000 and TV set production from 495,000 to
In 1956 an extra 35.…read more

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Output of refrigerators grew to 5.9 million (from 1.7 million in 1980).
In 1980 private plots made up 4% of the USSR's cultivated land but produced 30% of its
1981 ­ 1985 Average grain output was 181 million tons per year.
Throughout the 1980s the USSR continued to import 40 million tons of grain from the USA
and Argentina each year.
1985 The State savings bank held 221 billion roubles (compared to 18.7 billion roubles in
1965).…read more

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In 1970 the Soviet space probe Luna 16 landed on the moon and collected fragments before
returning safely.
April 1971 the space station Salyut 1 was sent into orbit.
June 1971 the cosmonauts in a space capsule docked with the station and remained in
space for 23 days.…read more

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April 1990 The Law of Secession made secession theoretically possible but made the
process very slow and complicated (2/3 of the population were required to vote for
independence in a referendum, there'd be a fiveyear transition period and smaller national
groups could opt out and remain in the USSR).
January 1991 Soviet paratroopers entered all three republics in the Baltic, with the excuse
that they were searching for deserters. ProRussian movements complicated the situation
(e.g.…read more

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Vietnam was partitioned into the Communist Republic of North Vietnam and the
nonCommunist Republic of South Vietnam. The US strengthened South Vietnam so that it
would act as a barrier against further Communist expansion. Under Khrushchev, the USSR
kept a relatively low profile in events in Vietnam, until US bombers started bombing North
1956 Khrushchev sent tanks into Hungary after antiSoviet demonstrations in Budapest
and the leader Imre Nagy announcing his intention to leave the Warsaw Pact.…read more

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September 1983 A Soviet fighter shot down South Korean airliner KAL007, which had
accidentally strayed into Soviet air space. 269 passengers were killed and tensions
He called for a summit with US President Reagan and for an arms reduction treaty but
Reagan regarded the USSR as the `evil empire'.
November 1986 The leaders of the satellite states were told that there would be no Soviet
military interventions.
January 1987 the USSR stopped jamming the BBC.…read more

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May 1988 The Democratic Union was set up ­ the first new noncommunist political group
since the revolution.
During the spring and summer of 1989 there were 51 mass demonstrations involving over
350,000 people.
Autumn 1989 the miners of Vorkuta went on strike with political demands such as the
abolition of Article 6 of the constitution (which gave the Communist Party its dominant role in
the political system).
1989 7.…read more


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