15. Current Intelligence Weekly Review0



Khrushchev Speech on Moscow Meeting of World Communist Leaders

Khrushchevʼs report on 6 January, published in the Soviet party journal Kommunist on 17 January, was intended to stand as the definitive Soviet interpretation of last Novemberʼs Moscow conference of world Communist leaders. Khrushchev vigorously reaffirmed his partyʼs position on the issues in dispute with Peiping and made it clear that the conference did not alter the views of the Soviet leadership.

Probably timed to complement the short and formal 18 January Soviet central committee resolution on the results of the conference, the speech took a more forthright position in dealing with the major questions of doctrine and policy than the often equivocal Moscow declaration of 6 December. The handling of the various issues indicates continuing areas of disagreement with Peiping and suggests that Moscow is determined to make no important concessions to the Chinese.

In effect, Khrushchev defended the validity of his foreign policy and reaffirmed that the only correct and prudent course under conditions of a nuclear stalemate is a policy of limited risks to achieve political gains. As he put it, “We always seek to direct the development of events in a way which ensures that, while defending the interests of the socialist camp, we do not provide the imperialist provocateurs with a chance to unleash a new world war.”

Exuding confidence that the trend of international events continues to run in favor of the socialist camp, Khrushchev stressed that the general strategic line and tactics of world Communism depend on correct evaluation of character of the balance of power. While reiterating the standard proposition that the bloc is the “decisive factor” in world affairs, he warned that imperialism retains “great strength”; under these circumstances, he implied, the bloc cannot undertake the extremely militant, revolutionary program advocated by Peiping. As Khrushchev put it, “To win time in the economic contest with capitalism is now the main thing.”

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Against this backdrop, Khrushchev went beyond the Moscow declaration in discussing policy toward the West. He stated, “Our party considers the policy of peaceful coexistence, which has been handed down to us by Lenin, to be the general line of our foreign policy.” This statement takes on added significance in light of East German party leader Ulbrichtʼs acknowledgment that the term “general line” provoked a dispute at the Moscow conference.

The term did not appear in the final declaration, and Ulbricht indicated that the Soviet party had attempted to extract recognition from Peiping of such a bloc-wide “line” and acceptance of the discipline it would impose on Chinese policies. Thus, in effect, Khrushchev made it clear that the USSRʼs basic foreign policy would not be adjusted to accommodate the Chinese.

Khrushchev also went further than the declaration in restating Moscowʼs intention to engage the West in further high-level talks. Unlike the declaration, Khrushchev reiterated his previous judgment that some elements in the West understand the danger of war and accept the need for coexistence. Building on this premise, he extended the Moscow statement by reaffirming that “socialist states” strive for “negotiations and agreement” with capitalist countries, and seek to “develop contacts” with capitalist statesmen. Presidium member Suslov, who delivered the formal report on the conference to the Soviet central committee plenum on 18 January, elaborated on Khrushchevʼs remark and specifically pointed out that these contacts should be between heads of states and governments.

Khrushchev supported the correctness of his approach by going into some detail on the consequences of modern war. After discussing the hundreds of millions who would perish in such a war, he called for a “sober appraisal” of the consequences as a necessary element in mobilizing the struggle to prevent war.

He also reaffirmed that the USSR is ordinarily opposed to local wars because of the danger that they might expand—a risk Peiping minimizes. As for one category of local wars, however, i.e., “liberation” wars such as the Algerian rebellion—Khrushchev stated his view, in apparent agreement with Peiping, that such wars are indeed inevitable as long as imperialism exists. He pledged that the bloc will give aid to such “liberation” forces.

The speech reinforced earlier indications that Moscow will pursue a more aggressive program in all “colonial” areas—among which Khrushchev specifies Algeria, the Congo, and Laos. However, the speech evaded the question—on which the Chinese have charged Khrushchev with timidity—of whether bloc support to “liberation” forces will go so far as to risk military clashes with the West. Similarly, in distinguishing a fourth category of wars—“national uprisings” such as Castroʼs—and in [Page 41] stating his expectation of and favor for such uprisings, Khrushchev declared that such wars must not become wars between states, but he evaded the question of what risks the bloc will take. He was particularly careful not to categorize the Laotian situation.

Khrushchev defended at length his policy of wooing the nationalist leaders of underdeveloped countries, even at the cost of sacrificing the local Communist parties there. The Chinese have accused him of exaggerating the importance of the neutralists (e.g., Nehru, Nasir, Sukarno), and have urged less Soviet aid and more of an effort to bring these leaders down. Khrushchev seems willing to move a little faster toward making pro-Soviet “national democracies” (e.g., Cuba) of the neutral nations, but still not as fast as Peiping wishes.

As for the tactics of Communist parties in the West, Khrushchev reaffirmed a gradualist program for these parties, envisaging lengthy preparation—through “democratic” movements—for eventual revolution. The Chinese have argued that “revolutionary situations” exist today in Western Europe and should be exploited.

In the latter part of his speech, Khrushchev discussed the question of the discipline of the world Communist movement, the underlying issue in the Sino-Soviet dispute. Khrushchev insisted that the “unity” of the movement is of “foremost importance,” and he reiterated that the Soviet party recognizes the “equality” of other parties and does not regard itself as the “center” of the movement.

He followed this, however, by making clear that the Soviet party does indeed wish to be regarded as the principal party and as the spokesman for the bloc, and in effect he advised the other parties to get rid of those who sympathize more with Peiping than with Moscow. Several parties at the November conference had supported the Chinese on some issues, and many other parties were neutral or split.

Khrushchev, in conclusion, addressed himself directly to the Chinese, whom he condemned elsewhere in the speech, without naming them, for persistent “dogmatism and sectarianism.” He reminded them that Sino-Soviet “unity” is necessary to “disappoint” and confound common enemies. Here and elsewhere he indirectly admitted that the Moscow conference did not resolve Sino-Soviet differences and may actually have made them worse.

Although Khrushchev quoted liberally from the Moscow declaration as testimony to the extent of agreement reached, the US Embassy has received reports that the original version of the speech contained sharp criticism of the Chinese. Khrushchev is reported to have bitterly castigated the Chinese leaders and stated that although they were “stupid,” it was necessary to reach agreement with them.

He also reportedly presented a full review of the sharp debates between the Soviet representatives and the Chinese. He is said to have read [Page 42] to the meeting of party functionaries in the Kremlin the main parts of Liu Shao Chiʼs attack on Soviet policy as well as his own reply and concluded with the statement, “This is what happened—you can judge for yourselves.”



Khrushchev—The Soviet Public Image

Despite Khrushchevʼs clear-cut victory over a potent combination of enemies in 1957, when he carried out a sharp reorganization of the Soviet Unionʼs top political command, there have been persistent doubts about the essential strength of his authority. During the past year in particular, there was widespread speculation—touched off by a number of developments in Soviet domestic and external policy—that Khrushchevʼs power had been weakened or had at least become subject to a collective “restraint” imposed by other leaders. Even exponents of the belief that Khrushchev has taken firm title to first place in the Soviet hierarchy concede, in the words of one of them, that his authority “is not yet independent of continuous, ever-renewed successes.”

Certainly, 1960 was not a year of unqualified success for Soviet foreign and domestic policy or of unbroken calm in Kremlin politics. The juggling of the Kremlin hierarchy and the summit collapse last spring, the stresses in Sino-Soviet relations, the Soviet premierʼs tumultuous behavior at theUN General Assembly, and the ailments of Soviet agriculture may well have provided the material for political controversy within the ruling command. Nevertheless, the sum of the evidence indicates that the question of Khrushchevʼs ultimate authority is not now at issue within the Soviet Union.

The Khrushchev Cult

One element in this evidence is the public image of Khrushchev as the uniquely gifted and natural leader—an image persistently developed by his subordinates at all levels and by the hacks of Soviet propaganda. The prestige conferred on Khrushchev is in part an outgrowth of the totalitarian mechanism itself, which inexorably funnels authority to a single point. This imbedded tendency, with its roots in the Russian past, has probably been consciously abetted as a means of furthering the Soviet Unionʼs drive to expand its authority on the international scene and its competition with the Chinese Communists.

Moreover, even in the face of Khrushchevʼs expressed disapproval of adulation of leaders—possibly genuinely intended—there is probably an irresistible urge on the part of subordinates to ensure themselves a place on the leaderʼs bandwagon.

The end product, a new version of the leader cult replacing the discarded Stalin cult, must not only reflect to a fair degree the actualities of [Page 43] Kremlin politics but also have become by now a political factor in itself. The overwhelming impression that Khrushchev is the focal point of the Soviet state and singularly endowed to prosecute its aims is not likely to encourage attempts to limit his authority or to increase his tolerance of political obstacles.

Shape of the Khrushchev Image

The central committee session just completed provided a new, vivid demonstration for the Soviet audience of the breadth of Khrushchevʼs authority. The meeting opened with the announcement that a party congress, nominally the Soviet Unionʼs highest tribune, had been called for next October and that Khrushchev would present two major reports there, thus guaranteeing not only that he will be the dominant figure at the meeting itself but also that his name will be prominently featured in the massive pre-congress build-up.

Published reports of the proceedings at the central committee plenum were themselves a considerable addition to the leader image. They pictured Khrushchev denouncing with almost Jovian ire the managerial sins of top party figures, brushing aside their excuses but accepting their fawning compliments, and repeatedly interrupting speakers to give his own detailed prescriptions for agricultural ills. All of this earned Pravdaʼs praise as a model of the “Leninist approach” but scarcely conveyed a picture of “collective leadership” to the Soviet public.

Despite occasional semantic variations in the propaganda formulas applied to the Soviet hierarchy and reiteration of the “collective leadership” theme, the vast majority of party and government officials as well as ordinary Soviet citizens cannot but be heavily influenced by the cumulative impact of the Khrushchev cult. They are exposed to a steady daily dosage comprised of the deference paid him publicly by his lieutenants, the precedence given him on public occasions, the attention devoted to him by Soviet communications media, and by the kinds of ritualistic formulas by which he is conventionally described.

It is difficult to find a speech by an important figure in the regime without sycophantic passages or an editorial in the central press which does not cite Khrushchev as authority for one or another aspect of Soviet policy. On days when such organs as Pravda and Izvestia do not feature the text of a Khrushchev speech, their front pages are weighted down with pictures of the leader at some public function and, more and more, with the texts of mutual exchanges of praise between him and Soviet organizations or individuals who have distinguished themselves in some area of production.

The general outlines of this cult present Khrushchev to the Soviet public in several aspects: as a pre-eminent international statesman whose grasp of the common manʼs aspirations is either admired or feared by other world leaders, as the true spiritual successor of the revered [Page 44] Lenin, and as the dynamic but flexible architect of party and government policy. Presidium member Dmitry Polyansky attempted to span this whole spectrum at the recent central committee meeting:

In the successes of the international Communist movement we must note the leading role of the Leninist central committee of our party, headed by the outstanding fighter for peace, democracy, and socialism—Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev. (Stormy applause) He has won the respect of working people all over the world by his profound knowledge of life, his bold and keen posing of problems, his ability to orient himself quickly and correctly under difficult circumstances, his wisdom, and his presence of mind.

Outstanding World Figure

The Soviet premierʼs numerous foreign excursions may not have been unmixed successes and their results have probably been discussed and assessed soberly in the Kremlinʼs inner councils, but the Soviet propaganda mill has concealed any misgivings and has invariably pictured them as resounding personal triumphs for Khrushchev and his policy of “peaceful coexistence.” Only one speech by Khrushchev in the previous four and one-half years was given greater treatment by Radio Moscow than the one he made following his return to Moscow from the summit failure. The US Embassy in Moscow reported for the same period an “extremely high volume of Soviet materials quoting, praising, or otherwise calling positive attention to Khrushchev.”

Khrushchevʼs excursion into theUN last fall was accompanied by an unprecedented outpouring of propaganda support. Before, during, and after the General Assembly session, Soviet media were inundated with reports of nationwide meetings which invariably expressed enthusiasm for Khrushchevʼs conduct, with the texts of his speeches at the UN, and with TASS dispatches picturing Khrushchevʼs dominance of the proceedings and the favorable worldwide “echo.”

This episode in Soviet diplomacy has, in the aftermath, been unremittingly described, in typical examples, as a further demonstration of “the impassioned and seething activity of N.S. KHRUSHCHEV,” of “the indefatigable herald of peace, the true Leninist, N.S. KHRUSHCHEV,” and, more broadly, as proof of “the consistent peaceful policy of the Soviet Government and the purposeful and tireless activity of the outstanding champion of peace and friendship between nations, Comrade Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev.”

On the Home Front

Although he may feel and act as though the USSRʼs world position is his primary concern, Khrushchev has at the same time given away no part of his claim to a special grasp of domestic problems. At the January central committee plenum he played to the limit the role of the stern, broadly informed overseer of agricultural affairs, and the Soviet image-makers [Page 45] have labored constantly to portray him as a leader of wide-ranging interests and knowledge, both profound and imaginative, but still humble and solicitous for the public welfare. The phrases “as N.S. KHRUSHCHEV has said” and “on the initiative of N.S. KHRUSHCHEV” are staples of Soviet propaganda and appear in contexts of all kinds.

The first party conference held in the newly organized virgin lands administrative territory, for example, dispatched a message of greetings to “Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, the initiator of virgin lands reclamation who daily displays solicitude for the development of the Kazakh virgin land.”

Such tributes to Khrushchev for his part in the virgin lands and corn-planting programs, with which he is closely identified, are commonplace, but the gamut is much wider. Among other things, Khrushchev can take credit, according to presidium candidate member Korotchenko, for exercising “an enormous, beneficial influence” on Soviet literature and, according to the chairman of the State Planning Committee, for “indefatigable attention to a fuller satisfaction of the growing demand of the population for consumer goods.” Podgorny, a member of the presidium and head of the Ukrainian party, carried the matter close to its most absurd level at the opening of the Kiev subway last November:

The inhabitants of Kiev know very well that Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was the initiator of the construction of the Kiev subway, and as its construction proceeded, we always felt his attention and the assistance of the CPSU central committee and the Soviet Government.

Leninist Leadership

Khrushchevʼs carefully constructed association with the image of Lenin has become imbedded in the formulas of Soviet propaganda. References to Khrushchev as “the faithful Leninist” or as “head of the Leninist central committee” are standard. Placing the Lenin hagiology at the service of the present leadership, Soviet propaganda incessantly reiterates that this leadership exemplifies a genuinely “Leninist style,” that the “Leninist norms of party life” and “collective leadership,” ignored by Stalin, have been restored, and that the party has overcome the “cult of the leader, alien to Lenin.”

The commemoration of Leninʼs 90th anniversary in 1960 produced a flood of literature describing both his accomplishments and his personal excellence—his modesty, distaste for sycophancy, and respect for the opinions of others. The adulation heaped on Lenin had, of course, the effect of increasing what he allegedly most detested, the “cult of the leader,” and of strengthening, by association, the Khrushchev cult.

Soviet propagandists seem to feel no embarrassment in affirming the existence of “collective leadership” at the very moment when their output is increasingly focused on one man, Khrushchev, nor in setting criticism of the leader cult side by side with phrases such as “the central [Page 46] committee headed by N.S. KHRUSHCHEV,” “the Presidium headed by N.S. KHRUSHCHEV,” or “the central committee, the Council of Ministers, and N.S. KHRUSHCHEV personally.”

If, however, any of the party faithful should detect a contradiction, they can refer to the “dialectical” reconciliation provided by the authoritative text Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism. The masses are the levers of history, this document declares, and “the cult of personality contradicts Marxism-Leninsm.” At the same time, it is pointed out, “the overwhelming majority of the masses of the workers are well aware that the authority and popularity of the outstanding leaders of the working class have nothing in common with the personality cult … . Without leaders who enjoy authority and who are linked up with the masses and are popular among them, there is no organized socialist movement … . The first-rate leaders of the working class, who are intimately linked with the people and who successfully conduct the struggle of the workers for their vital interests and ideals, play an outstanding role in history and deserve the peopleʼs love.”

Khrushchev no doubt considers that this description fits him very well.


For the past two years, Khrushchev, evidently considering the domestic front relatively secure, has been deeply immersed in pressing the USSRʼs international ambitions. Atop an underlying movement of social and ideological change, whose long-term political effects are probably only vaguely sensed in the Kremlin as elsewhere, the regimeʼs internal actions have remained centered mainly on pragmatic, economic objectives.

The failure of Soviet agriculture to measure up to expectations appears to have forced Khrushchev once again to concern himself directly with an area of policy which was once his major interest. In the interim, however, his involvement in foreign affairs and lengthy periods of rest, dictated by the state of his health, have necessarily given many of the other members of the party presidium a good share of the responsibility for the conduct of political and economic affairs at home.

With the question of the succession always in the background, these circumstances have created the ground for conflicts of ambition within the hierarchy and for more or less sudden shifts in the fortunes of key figures. Moreover there is still within the presidium, according to the best available information, some room for “give and take” on important issues and therefore an area in which Khrushchev is, to a degree, subject to influence and restraint. However, the shape of Khrushchevʼs present public image, while only part of the evidence, provides some measure of his position and suggests that his authority is neither threatened nor diminished.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency: Job 79-S01060A. Confidential. Prepared by CIAʼs Office of Current Intelligence. The source text comprises pp. 1-3 of Part II of the issue(Khrushchev Speech on Moscow Meeting of World Communist Leaders) and pp. 1-5 of Part III of the issue (Khrushchev—The Soviet Public Image). Two photographs in the source text and their captions have not been printed.