The first leader of the SovietUnion was VladimirLenin?, who led the CommunistS? (then called BolshevikS?) to power in the RussianRevolution? of 1917. After Lenin died in 1924, power gradually consolidated in the hands of JosephStalin?, who led the SovietUnion until his death in 1953. Future Soviet leaders such as NikitaKruschev? and LeonidBrezhnev? were unable to consolidate power as Stalin had done, and served more as functionaries of the state rather than as dictators. MikhailGorbachev? became head of the SovietUnion in 1985 and attempted to preserve the collapsing CommunisT? regime by reducing tensions with the UnitedStates and lessening the extent of political persecution, but without abandoning the core CommunisT? tenet of centralized bureaucratic control of the economy. These attempts failed, and the CollapseOfTheSovietUnion? occured in 1991.
The SovietUnion was the most genocidal regime in human history, murdering an estimated 62 million people. The majority of these, some 42 million, were murdered by Stalin between 1929 and 1953. After Stalin, the Soviet regime murdered over 6 million people within its own borders. Perhaps the final act of murder was the VilniusMassacre?, in which 14 people were killed by gunfire and tanks in Vilnius, Lithuania. MikhailGorbachev? ordered the killings just months after being awarded the NobelPrize.