Alexei Kosygin

Alexei Kosygin

Alexei Kosygin was Premier of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1980. Despite holding power for 16 years, his position was substantially weakened in the 1970s. Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Part of the Soviet Union, gradually gained power until he was effective leader. Kosygin was more liberal than Brezhnev, but by the 1970s Brezhnev was able to block his reforming policies.

Born on 20 February 1904 in St. Petersburg, Kosygin was conscripted to fight for the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War.  After he was demobilised, he studied at Leningrad Co-Operative Technical School. He joined the Communist Party in 1927 and later studied at the Leningrad Textile Institute, graduating in 1935.

After graduating, Kosygin gained employment as a textile mill director. He became involved in politics and in 1939 became People’s Commissar for the Textile industry. He was also made a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. During World War Two, Kosygin worked for the State Defence Committee as Deputy Chairman of the Council of Evacuation.

After the Second World War, Kosygin climbed up Communist party ranks. He served as Minister of Finance and Minister of Light Industry between 1948 and 1953, and spent time as a member of the Politburo. Kosygin soon earned a reputation for reliability.

In 1959 Kosygin became Chairman of the State Planning Committee, and in 1960 he became Khrushchev's First Deputy Premier.

Khrushchev lost power in October 1964  in the wake of his downfall during the Cuban Missile Crisis . Kosygin became premier, with Leonid Brezhnev as general secretary.

As Premier, Kosygin made plans to decentralise Moscow’s control of agriculture and industry. He achieved some success in this endeavour. However, he encountered resistance from people who subscribed to the philosophy, deeply rooted in Communist Moscow, that all things must emanate from the capital.

Kosygin also wanted to improve people’s access to consumer goods in the USSR. Here he was unsuccessful. The USSR was piling huge sums of money trying to compete with the USA in military expenditure and achieve supremacy in the arms race. Unlike the USA, the USSR struggled to afford this military investment. This impeded Kosygin’s attempts to boost the production of consumer goods.

On 23 October 1980 Kosygin resigned due to poor health. He died on 18 December 1980 at the age of 76.

MLA Citation/Reference

"Alexei Kosygin". 2023. Web.

Key facts

Name: Alexei Kosygin
Birth Date: 20 February 1904, St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
Death: 18 December 1980 (aged 76), Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Political party: Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Spouse: Klavdia Andreyevna (died 1967)
Key appointments: Chairman of the Council of Ministers
  • October 1964-October 1980
First Deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers
  • May 1980-October 1964
Chairman of the State Planning Committee
  • March 1959 – May 1960