Chernenko, Konstantin Ustinovich (kŏstəntyēēnˈ ōōstyēēnˈəvich chĭrnyĕnˈkô) [key], 1911–85, Soviet political leader. A protégé of Leonid Brezhnev, he rose through Communist party ranks in the 1950s, becoming a full member of the Central Committee (1971) and the Politburo (1978). When Yuri Andropov died (1984), he was elected general secretary of the Communist party and chairman of the Presidium. His health was poor and on his death (Mar. 13, 1985), he was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev.
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