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Stalin dies in 1953 and is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev.
After being elected, Khrushchev began the process of de - stalinization, as he believed that Stalin's reign of terror was wrong.
Stalin was a piece of crap!
Khrushchev not only rejected Stalin's system of terror, but reinstated the communist party as a vital political institution. He also subordinated the KGB to party authority, and allowed liberalization of the media in regards to Stalinism-centered criticism.
Leonid Brezhnev, who succeeded Khrushchev, tightened control in the cultural sphere, making sure people who expressed dissenting views through publication were punished.
In exchange for political compliance, the population enjoyed job security, a lax work environment, low prices for basic goods, housing, and transport, and other benefits. This is called the tacit social contract.
Economic growth rates declined, and many consumer goods were left in short supply. Pollution levels and the costs of exploiting new resource deposits soared.
Liberalization in some Eastern Europe states and the telecommunication revolution made it increasingly difficult to shield the population from exposure to western lifestyles and ideas.
Aspirations began rising just as the capacity of the system to fulfill them was declining.
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