Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko was a Soviet politician and the fifth General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He led the Soviet Union from 13 February 1984 until his death thirteen months later, Chernenko was also Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 11 April 1984 until his death. Chernenko was born to a family in the village of Bolshaya Tes on 24 September 1911. His father, Ustin Demidovich, worked in mines and gold mines while his mother took care of the farm work. Chernenko joined the Komsomol in 1929, and became a member of the Communist Party in 1931. From 1930 to 1933, he served in the Soviet frontier guards on the Soviet-Chinese border, after completing his military service, he returned to Krasnoyarsk as a propagandist. In 1933 he worked in the Propaganda Department of the Novosyolovsky District Party Committee, a few years later he was promoted to head of the same department in Uyarsk Raykom. It was in the 1940s that Chernenko established a relationship with Fyodor Kulakov. In 1945, he acquired a diploma from a party training school in Moscow, the turning point in Chernenko’s career was his assignment in 1948 to head the Communist Party’s propaganda department in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. There, he met and won the confidence of Leonid Brezhnev, Chernenko followed Brezhnev in 1956 to fill a similar propaganda post in the CPSU Central Committee in Moscow. In 1960, after Brezhnev was named chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, in 1964 Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was deposed, and succeeded by Leonid Brezhnev. During Brezhnevs tenure as Party leader, Chernenkos career continued successfully and he also monitored telephone wiretaps and covert listening devices in various offices of the top Party members. Another one of his jobs was to sign hundreds of Party documents daily, even after he became General Secretary of the Party, he continued to sign papers referring to the General Department. In 1971 Chernenko was promoted to membership in the Central Committee, Overseeing Party work over the Letter Bureau. In 1976 he was elected secretary of the Letter Bureau, in 1977 he became Candidate, and in 1978 full member of the Politburo, serving second to the General Secretary in terms of Party hierarchy. In 1979 he took part in the Vienna arms limitation talks, yuri Andropov died in February 1984, after just 15 months in office. Chernenko was then elected to replace Andropov, despite concerns over his own ailing health, yegor Ligachev writes in his memoirs that Chernenko was elected general secretary without a hitch. At Andropovs funeral, he could read the eulogy
Konstantin Chernenko in 1979.
Original CIA file on Chernenko, seized from the former US Embassy in Tehran.