Brezhnev, Leonid

[ (lay-uh-nid brezh-nef) ]

A Soviet political leader of the twentieth century. He seized the leadership of the Soviet Communist party from Nikita Khrushchev in 1964. Brezhnev eventually became the head of government of the Soviet Union and served until his death in 1982. Brezhnev had the Soviet army invade Afghanistan in 1979 to keep a government friendly to the Soviets in power. He also sent soldiers into Czechoslovakia in 1968 to depose a government he considered unacceptable. He reached agreements with the United States on reducing the two nations' stock of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union under Brezhnev was marked by a stagnating economy and widespread corruption.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.