Leonid Illyich Brezhnev born on December 19, 1906 in the Ukraine and was General Secretary of the CPSU or Central Committee of the Communist party of the Soviet Union beginning in 1964 ending in 1982. During Brezhnev's regime the global influence of the Soviet Union grew, the military was expanded, and he is credited with beginning a Soviet era of social and economic stagnation. This stagnation and discontent lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
He was drafted to the Soviet military during WWII and left the army after the war with a rank of Major General. In 1964 Brezhnev succeeded Khrushchev as First Secretary.
He governed by consulting his officers, and a huge rise in military expenditures caused shortfalls. Brezhnev presided over the War saw Pact and he sent the military to Afghanistan to help the regime fight against the mujahedeen. Economic stagnation became a hallmark of Brezhnev's regime as the result of the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States plus participating in international trade rather than economic isolation. Social unrest was stimulated by the demands of unskilled workers, labor shortages and the decline in labor discipline and productivity.
Brezhnev deterred economic collapse by trading with Western Europe and the Arabs. The Soviet Union out produced the U.S. in heavy industry during the Brezhnev era. There were areas of improvement during the Brezhnev rule, but most civilian services and living conditions fell. Disease rose due to the decaying health system.
Brezhnev presided over the Soviet Union longer than any other head of state except Joseph Stalin. His regime is marked as the Era of Stagnation, but he did reach ultimate levels of prestige, internal calm and power. His vanity was a problem during his entire reign. He loved to drive foreign cars and had a huge disregard for public safety.
Brezhnev married Viktoria Petrovna and she lived totally alone during final years. Brezhnev's daughter Galain was an alcoholic and a gold-bullion swindle gang leader. His son Yuri still lives in the Ukraine. Brezhnev died on November 10, 1982 and was succeeded by Yuri Andropov.