Yuri Andropov, the son of a railway official, was born in Nagutskoye, in the Soviet Union. He trained as a water transport engineer and worked in the shipyards at Rybinsk. He was politically active and joined the Communist Party (CPSU).
In 1940 Andropov was placed in charge of the Karelian peninsula. After the German Army occupied the area in 1941 Andropov organized the partisan resistance movement in the area.
In 1954 Andropov was posted to Budapest and played an important role in crushing the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. On his return to the Soviet Union he was appointed head of the Committee for State Security (KGB).
Andropov, met Mikhail Gorbachev while he was First Secretary for Stavropol Territory. Andropov was impressed with his work and used his considerable influence to promote Gorbachev's career.
In 1973 Andropov became a member of the Politburo and on the death of Leonid Brezhnev in 1982 became General Secretary of the Communist Party. Andropov attempted to introduce a series of reforms but he died in 1984 before he could complete his programme.