After Nikita Khrushchev's condemnation of some of Stalin's crimes in 1956, the Mongolian People's Republic, following in the footsteps of the “fraternal” Soviet Union, also succumbed to the “thaw.” Khrushchev used de Stalinization to discredit his hardline opponents. Mongolia's leader, Yumjaagiyn Tsedenbal, was a Stalin-era holdover who came under criticism from his rivals for being unenthusiastic about political reforms. Tsedenbal had good reason to downplay de-Stalinization:He shared responsibility with Marshal Horloogiyn Choibalsan for violent repressions in the 1940s. But Tsedenbal outmaneuvered and eliminated his opponents in the late 1950s and early 1960s and consolidated his grip on power by 1964.Toward the end of that year, however, Tsedenbal once again was challenged, this time from an unexpected direction. Several members of the Central Committee of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) used the precedent of Khrushchev's forced retirement from his leadership posts in Moscow in October 1964 as a pretext to overthrow Tsedenbal. At a plenum of the MPRP Central Committee in December 1964, Tsedenbal was accused of incompetence, corruption, disrespect for principles of “party democracy,” lack of economic discipline, and overreliance on the Soviet Union for credits. But Tsedenbal rebuffed the “anti-party group” and depicted the affair as an attempted coup engineered by pro-Chinese sympathizers and spies. Soviet leaders were wary of Chinese efforts to “subvert” Moscow's in fluence in the socialist camp and were therefore willing to endorse Tsedenbal's version of events.

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