Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was a Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union as General Secretary of the governing Communist Party and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. His 18-year term as general secretary was second only to Joseph Stalin's in duration. While Brezhnev's rule was characterised by political stability and significant foreign policy successes, it was also marked by corruption, inefficiency, economic stagnation, and rapidly growing technological gaps with the West.
Leonid Brezhnev was born to a Russian working-class family in Kamenskoye within the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. After the results of the October Revolution were finalized with the creation of the Soviet Union, Brezhnev joined the Communist party's youth league in 1923 before becoming an official party member in 1929. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, he joined the Red Army as a commissar and rose rapidly through the ranks to become a major general during World War II. Following the war's end, Brezhnev was promoted to the party's Central Committee in 1952 and rose to become a full member of the Politburo by 1957.