Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, was born September 11, 1911, Bolshaya Tes, Minusinsk region, Eniseysk province, Russia.
Born to a Russian peasant family in Siberia, Konstantin Chernenko entered the Communist Party in 1931 during his army service. In 1933-1941 he headed department of propaganda and agitation in Novosyolovo and Uyar regions. In 1941-1943 Chernenko was a secretary of the Krasnoyarsk regional party committee, but quit the job to study in the Higher School of Party Organizers, Moscow (1943-45). He was sent to Penza as a secretary of party provincial committee in charge of propaganda and agitation (1945-48). Then he was moved to Moldavia becoming head of agitation and propaganda department (1948-56), where he met Leonid Brezhnev, who brought him to Moscow (1956) to head mass agitation section of agitation and propaganda department of the Central Committee. In May 1960 - July 1965 Chernenko served as chief of the chancellery of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium.
When Brezhnev took over the party leadership, he made Chernenko chief of the General Department (July 1965 - Nov. 1982). Elected a candidate member of the Central Committee (1966-1971) at the 23rd party congress, Chernenko was promoted to full membership (1971-1985) at the 24th congress. In 1976 he was elected secretary (March 5, 1976 - Feb. 13, 1984) of the Central Committee and joined the Politburo as candidate member (Oct. 3, 1977 - Nov. 27, 1978). Then he was quickly promoted to full membership (Nov. 27, 1978 - March 10, 1985). Chernenko was considered a close associate of Brezhnev, but after his death he was unable to rally a majority of the party factions behind his candidacy to be head of the party and lost out to Yury Andropov who became general secretary on Nov. 12, 1982.
Andropov's reforms targeted at eliminating corruption and cutting privileges in the higher party ranks estranged the party bureaucracy. In attempt to return to Brezhnevism, the aging Politburo, of which seven members died in advanced age in 1982-1984, plumped for the conservative Chernenko, who was elected (Feb. 13, 1984) general secretary following the death of Andropov on Feb. 9. On April 11, 1984, Chernenko was elected chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. However, deteriorating health of Chernenko made him unfit to govern effectively. His frequent absences from official functions left little doubt that his election had been an interim measure. He died in office on March 10, 198