Nikita_Khrushchev_in_1959.jpg|thumbnail|250px|Khrushchev in 1959]]
Nikita Khrushchev assumed leadership of the Soviet Union during the period following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. Khrushchev served as a General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as a Chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964. When in 1964, Nikita Khrushchev was forced to leave his post and the Party leadership, a special “troika” representatives consisting of Alexey Kosygin, Leonid Brezhnev and Anastas Mikoyan initially replaced him. Brezhnev eventually assumed the central role among the three and, under Brezhnev’s rule, the Soviet expanded its sphere of influence to include much of Southeast Asia, Africa, parts of Central America and the Caribbean. Until his death, in 1971, the government closely monitored Khrushchev.
==De-Stalinization and domestic policies==
By the end of 1955, due to the policy, pursued by Khrushchev, thousands of political criminals had returned home, and shared their experience in the Soviet labor camps. With several million political prisoners newly released, Khrushchev eased and freed the domestic political atmosphere.
==Liberalization, political, military and agricultural reforms==
During Khrushchev’s time in office, for the first time, the Party leadership permitted Soviet tourists to go overseas, and Khrushchev often seemed amenable to widening exchanges with both socialist and capitalist countries. Furthermore, by 1954 Khrushchev effectively managed to reform the Stalinist security apparatus by subordinating it to the top party leadership. He divided Stalin’s Ministry of Internal Affairs into criminal police and security services – KGB (now Federal Security Service – FSB), which in turn reported directly to the U.S.S.R’s Council of Ministers. The head of KGB was also Khrushchev’s nominee. However, the Soviet military bitterly resisted Khrushchev’s desire to reduce conventional armaments in favor of nuclear missiles. His attempted decentralization of the party structure begun antagonizing many of those who had previously supported his own rise to power. According to various authors, political terror as an everyday method of government was replaced under Khrushchev by his administrative means of repression.