Near the end of his life, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had taken to spending almost all of his free time at his dacha in the Moscow suburb of Kuntsevo. Easily depressed when left on his own, he regularly summoned four members of his inner circle to join him there for a movie and a meal.
Stalin’s “comrades-in-arms” at that time included Georgy Malenkov, Stalin’s likely successor and deputy premier; Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s influential chief of secret police, who was also jockeying for power; Nikita Khrushchev, whom Stalin had summoned to Moscow to balance the power dynamics of Malenkov and Beria; and Nikolai Bulganin, Stalin’s defense minister.
“As soon as he woke up, he would ring us— the four of us—and either invite us to see a film or start some long conversation about a question that could have been resolved in two minutes,” Khrushchev later recounted.
The move was in part for company, in part to keep an eye on them.