The second longest ruling Soviet leader Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was born on 19 December 1906 in Ukrainian town Kamenskoye to a metalworker’s family. He studied at the Dniprodzerzhynsk Metallurgical Technicum and after finishing the school he worked as a metallurgical engineer in the iron and steel industry.
Brezhnev lived in the area of Ukraine. In 1923 he joined Kosmopol (Communist Party youth organisation). When he was 25 years old He became a member of the Communist Party and his career began to rise after his service in the Red Army.
During the Second World War he was a political commissar but at the end of the War he was finally entitled a Major General.
After the war, on the recommendation of Nikita Khrushchev, Brezhnev got into top party functions in Ukraine. And in 1964, after a party coup and the removal of Nikita Khrushchev from the leadership Brezhnev became the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the most powerful man in the country.
Brezhnev ordered repressive measures to stabilise his power and the situation in Soviet Union. He abolished Khrushchev’s liberalising reforms. In 1970s, there were nearly 10 000 political and religious prisoners, who lived in hard conditions and suffered from lack of food. Some of those prisoners were considered mentaly ill, hence they were kept in mental asylums.
During Brezhnev‘s reign the influence of Moscow arised and he applied the right of ‘protecting the socialism’, known as the Brezhnev Doctrine, which led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 to stop the Prague Spring, when the Czech communist leader Alexander Dubček tried to liberalise the regime in Czechoslovakia. The right of ‘protecting the socialism’ led also to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
After Joseph Stalin Brezhnev was the longest ruling leader of the Soviet Union, he served as a General Secretary for 18 years. He led the Union until his death on 10 November 1982. He died after suffering from various illnesses for several years. He was quickly succeeded in the post of General Secretary by Yuri Andropov.