In a fatalistic system where death is a solution and the succession of power is by force. Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) had few options when he and other loyalist where on the short list to leadership.
Lenin, and Stalin’s opposition, even within their own party, were summarily disposed of by the customary means to avoid future challenges. Khrushchev was faced with either taking the leadership, for which he believed to be unqualified, or be disposed of as a risk. Execution by his rival.
At first, Khrushchev and other high-ranking officials ruled through a form of collective leadership. But in 1955 he organized the ouster of Premier Georgi Malenkov and replaced him with an ally, Nikolai Bulganin. Khrushchev foiled a Malenkov-led coup attempt in June 1957 and took over the premiership the following March.
The break with China in the early 60’s and food shortages in the USSR eroded Khrushchev’s legitimacy in the eyes of other high-ranking Soviet officials, who were already bothered by what they saw as his erratic tendency to undercut their authority.
Few dictators have the privilege to live out their retirement. They are usually casualties in the transfer of power. Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev are the few two.