Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (Russian: Леони́д Ильи́ч Бре́жнев (help·info), Leonid Il’ich Brezhnev; 19 December 1906  – 10 November 1982) was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (and thus political leader of the Soviet Union) from 1964 to 1982, serving in that position longer than anyone other than Joseph Stalin. He was twice Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (head of state), from 7 May 1960 to 15 July 1964, then from 16 June 1977 to his death on 10 November 1982.

Brezhnev was born in Kamenskoe (now Dniprodzerzhynsk) in Ukraine, to Ilya Yakovlevich Brezhnev and his wife Natalia Denisovna. Like many youths in the years after the Russian Revolution of 1917, he received a technical education, at first in land management where he started as a land surveyor and then in metallurgy. He graduated from the Dniprodzerzhynsk Metallurgical Technicum and became an engineer in the iron and steel industries of eastern Ukraine. He joined the Communist Party youth organization, the Komsomol in 1923 and the Party itself in 1931. Though he originally would refer to himself as a Ukrainian, later on as he moved though the ranks of the Communist Party he would describe himself as Russian.

In 1935-36, Brezhnev was drafted for obligatory army service, and after taking courses at a tank school, he served as a political commissar in a tank factory. Later in 1936, he became director of the Dniprodzerzhynsk Metallurgical Technicum (technical college). In 1936, he was transferred to the regional center of Dnipropetrovsk and, in 1939, he became Party Secretary in Dnipropetrovsk, in charge of the city's important defense industries.

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