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Nikolai Bukharin and the Power Struggle

Alexei Rykov, Bukharin's friend, ally, fellow Politburo member, NEP man and was also the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. He was put on trial at the Trial of the Twenty One and executed, along with Bukharin, in March 1938. The story of the struggle between the various Bolshevik Party leaders who wished to succeed Lenin after his death began with Lenin dictating his Testament. Lenin had suffered a stroke on May 26, 1921, shortly after having surgery performed on him in order to remove the bullets that had lain in his body since August 1918, when the Socialist Revolutionary Fanya Kaplan was accused of shooting him. (She had been shot, even though some say that she could not possibly have shot at Lenin because her eyesight was poor.) While recuperating at his home in the Kremlin more than a year later, in Moscow in December 1922, just a short while after suffering a second stroke, he dictated his Testament. Perhaps realizing that he did not have that much longer to live, this Testament was meant to be made public at the first Party congress after his death. After Lenin died in January 1924 the troika (trio) of Grigori Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, and Stalin governed the country in a collective leadership. (Bukharin became a full member of the Politburo shortly after Lenin died). Zinoviev was the leader of the party in Leningrad and Kamenev was the leader of the party in Moscow. This pair was afraid of Lev Trotsky, partly because of his fiery, aggressive, authoritative manner and they sided with Stalin to limit Trotsky's influence. In charge of NEP was Bukharin and his friends Mikhail Tomsky, the Trade Union chief, and Alexei Rykov, the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. This pair soon separated because of differences of opinion about NEP. Stalin thought that rapid and forced collectivization and industrialization were needed, while Bukharin thought that NEP was needed to restore the economy, ally the peasants together with their government and procede with communism slowly though time. In an article published in Pravda in April 1925 Bukharin appealed to the peasants: "Enrich yourselves, develop your farms and do not worry about being subjected to restrictions." Kamenev and Zinoviev were shocked at this, a rich peasant. They thought that NEP was a return to capitalism and a step backward. They began to snipe at Bukharin. Stalin used this to his advantage. While Zinoviev Kamenev and Bukharin quarreled with each other, Stalin lay low and bided his time, it was a natural for him, seeing as how while Zinoviev and Kamenev were quibbling with Bukharin they weren't paying any attention to Stalin. In early 1926 Stalin raised the number of Politburo members up to 9 members, up from the previous 6 and stuck his own followers in there, for example Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, and Mikhail Kalinin. Later in 1926 Zinoviev was removed from the position of chief of the party in Leningrad and replaced with Sergei Kirov, another one of Stalin's followers, who was also promoted to a position in the Politburo in that same year. Also in 1926, both Trotsky and Kamenev were removed from the Politburo and Zinoviev from the comintern. In 1927 Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev were removed from the party altogether (the latter two were later readmitted after recanting their beliefs, but they had no influence or rank.) Trotsky on the other hand was sent into exile in January 1928. Now pretty much the only people who stood between Stalin and control over the USSR were Bukharin and his friends Rykov, Tomsky, Sergei Kirov (who was a friend of Stalin's but later joined Bukharin's crowd), and their friends and supporters.

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