Bulganin, Nikolai Alexandrovich

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(18951975), political and military leader.

Nikolai Bulganin was a marshal of the Red Army who rose to the position of Soviet Prime Minister (19551958) under Nikita Khrushchev. Bulganin made his career mainly as a security and military official, but he was also an urban administrator. As mayor of Moscow (19311937) at a time when the capital was undergoing rapid expansion, he collaborated closely with Khrushchev in the construction of such enduring symbols of Stalinist urbanization as the Moscow metro. Bulganin's career benefited from the purges (19371938). Despite his lack of military training, Josef Stalin actively promoted him as a party commissar to oversee the military. He eventually joined Stalin's war cabinet in 1944. In 1947 he succeeded Stalin as minister for the armed forces and was promoted to marshal. A year later he joined the Politburo. Shortly after Stalin's death (1953), he was appointed minister of defense. In the ensuing political confrontation with secret police chief Lavrenti Beria, Bulganin sided with his friend Khrushchev, ensuring the military's loyalty. Bulganin's subsequent support for Khrushchev against Georgy Malenkov, who was advocating reduced spending on heavy industry, led to Bulganin's appointment as prime minister. In this post he actively supported Khrushchev's attempts to defuse tensions with the West, over both Germany, and Yugoslavia. But he always played second fiddle to party boss Khrushchev. A year after Bulganin sided with the Stalinist Anti-Party Group against Khrushchev (1957), he was dismissed as both prime minister and marshal. Relegated to a minor economic post, he subsequently retired in 1960.

See also: khrushchev, nikita sergeyevich


Khrushchev, Nikita. (1974). Khrushchev Remembers: The Last Testament, tr. and ed. Strobe Talbott. London: Andre Deutsch.

Taubman, William; Khrushchev, Sergei; and Gleason, Abbott, eds. (2000). Nikita Khrushchev. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Roger D. Markwick