Stalin and Post-Stalin Politics
During Stalin's dictatorship in the Soviet Union (1926-53), Azerbaijan suffered, as did other Soviet republics, from forced collectivization and far-reaching purges. Yet during the same period, Azerbaijan also achieved significant gains in industrialization and literacy levels that were impressive in comparison with those of other Muslim states of the Middle East at that time.
After Stalin Moscow's intrusions were less sweeping but nonetheless authoritarian. In 1959 Nikita S. Khrushchev, first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), moved to purge leaders of the Azerbaijani Communist Party (ACP) because of corruption and nationalist tendencies. Leonid I. Brezhnev, Khrushchev's successor, also removed ACP leaders for nationalist leanings, naming Heydar Aliyev in 1969 as the new ACP leader. In turn, Mikhail S. Gorbachev removed Aliyev in 1987, ostensibly for health reasons, although later Aliyev was accused of corruption.
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