... Brezhnev in 1977 assumed the post of President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (head of state). Kosygin was succeeded as Prime Minister in 1980 by Nikolai Tikhonov.
After Brezhnev died in 1982 Yury Andropov was elected general secretary and subsequently President. Andropov died in 1984, however, and was succeeded in both posts by Konstantin Chernenko. On his death in the following year Chernenko was succeeded as general secretary by Mikhail Gorbachev and as President by Andrei Gromyko. Tikhonov was replaced as Prime Minister by Nikolai Ryzhkov in September 1985. In late 1985 and early 1986 Gorbachev moved to consolidate his aauthority by appointing his supporters to key party and povernment posts in place of representatives of the "old guard".
Leadership. The full members of the Politburo in March 1986 were Mikhail Gorbachev (g.s.), Geidar Aliev, Gen. Viktor Chebrikov, Andrei Gromyko, Dinmukhamed Kunaev, Yegor Ligachev, Nikolai Ryzhkov, Vladimir Shcherbitsky, Eduard Shevardnadze, Mikhail Solomentsev, Vitaly Vorotnikov and Lev Zaikov. The candidate members were, Piotr Demichev, Vladimir Dolgikh, Nikolai Slyunkov, Marshal Sergei Sokolov, Yury Solovev, Nikolai Talyzin and Boris Yeltsin.
Structure The basic unit is the primary party organization or branch, the membership of which varies between a minimum of three and several thousand. The great majority of branches are based on factories, offices, farms and other places of work, although branches may also be fored in blocks of flats or small villages. In 1982, there were 419,670 branches, of which only 75,679 were organized on a territorial basis. In large enterprises or organizations branches are divided into smaller groups, e.g., workshop groups in factories. Branches elect delegates to the provincial or city conference. The conferences at each level elect the town, district, borough, provincial or city committee, which elects a bureau from among its members to conduct day-to-day business between its meetings. In all the 15 union republics, except the largest, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), the provincial and city conferences elect delegates to the republican congress; this elects its Central Committee, which elects a Politburo and Secretariat.
The provincial and city conferences in the RSFSR and the republican congresses in the other republics elect delegates to the all-union congress. About 5,000 delegates took part in the 1986 congress, in adition to fraternal delegations from counist parties throughout the world. The proceedings, which normally last about a week, open with the Committee's report, delivered by the general secretary, which includes a survey of the international situation, internal political and economic developments and inner-party matters. From 1919 to 1924 congresses were held annually, and four more took place between 1926 and 1934; during the next 22 years, however, only two were held, in 1939 and 1952. Since 1961, congresses have taken place every five years, and in 1971 the party rules were amended to make this the regular practice, in order that congresses might approve the new five-year plan.
The congress elects the Central Committee, a body which has steadily increased in size; that elected in 1986 consisted of 307 full and 170 non-voting candidate members. It has been estimated that 48 per cent of these were full-time party officials, 26.4 per cent national or regional government officials, 7 per cent members of the armed forces and only 5 per cent workers or peasants. Although the full committee normally meets only twice a year, it can play a decisive role when differences arise insie the Politburo, as in 1957, when it supported Khrushchev against the "anti-party group", and in 1964, when it removed him from office.