Kosygin, Suslov, and Brezhnev played important roles in replacing Khrushchev. Berzhnev in particular had been especially close to Khrushchev. Leonid Brezhnev (1906–82) emerged as the preminent leader as General Secretary of the Communist Party. He ruled the Soviet Union for 18 years as was lionized as a wise and far-sighted leader. Within a few years of his death, his era came to be called the Era of Stagnation, not by regime critics, but by Soviet authorities temselves. Brezhnev oversaw a massive military buildup which made the Soviet Union a superpower on par with the United Sates. There were also expansive and often costly international commitments. Less attention was given to the domestic economy. The principal criticisms were a substatial decline of the Soviet economy as well as rampant cronyism that bloated the beaureacracy and Communist party.
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