Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal (Mongolian: Юмжаагийн Цэдэнбал) (1916-1991) was a communist politician and tenth president of the People's Republic of Mongolia, from June 11, 1974 to August 23, 1984. He was elected by the People's Revolutionary Party from Mongolia.
Tsedenbal successfully purged his political rivals: Dashiin Damba in 1958–59, Daramyn Tömör-Ochir in 1962, Luvsantserengiin Tsend in 1963 and the so-called Lookhuuz - Nyambuu - Surmaajav "anti-party group" in December 1964 without the need to summarily execute them. He held this position until June 11, 1974, when he finally became head of state, thus becoming the supreme ruler of the People's Republic of Mongolia.
Tsedenbal was born to a poor ethnic Dörvöd nomadic family in Zorigt Khan hoshuu of the Unen Zorigt Khan aimag (present day Davst sum in Uvs aimag). He was the fifth of eleven children in his family (three of his siblings died in infancy).
In 1925 Tsedenbal became among the first students in the newly organized public school in Ulaangom, graduating in 1929. The same year Tsedenbal went to Irkutsk to continue his education. He spent about nine years between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude, where he learned the Russian language and later obtained a degree from the Siberian Finance and Economics Institute.
In 1939, having returned to Ulaanbaatar, Tsedenbal worked first as a deputy minister and then as a minister of finance. In 1940, at the 10th Congress of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, he became the party's General Secretary at age 23 and again in 1958 during his premiership.
After taking over minor leadership in 1952 following Marshal Khorloogiin Choibalsan's death, Tsedenbal successfully purged his political rivals: Dashiin Damba in 1958–59, Daramyn Tömör-Ochir in 1962, Luvsantserengiin Tsend in 1963, and the so-called Lookhuuz-Nyambuu-Surmaajav "anti-party group" in December 1964. He held this office until 11 June 1974, when he eventually became head of state, thus making him the supreme ruler of the Mongolian People's Republic.
His foreign policy was marked by efforts to bring Mongolia into ever-closer cooperation with the USSR. Still, Tsedenbal and his group of party leaders (such as Tsagaan-Lamyn Dugersuren and Damdinjavyn Maidar) were dissatisfied with the economic role that the Soviet leadership assigned to Mongolia. While the USSR prodded the Mongolian government to concentrate its efforts on the development of agriculture and the mineral sector, Tsedenbal and his followers sought to foster rapid industrialization even in the face of Soviet opposition. At the same time, Tsedenbal was cautious enough to frequently express his loyalty to the Kremlin and portray his intra-party critics—including Daramyn Tömör-Ochir, Tsogt-Ochiryn Loohuuz, and others—as "pro-Chinese factionalists" and "nationalists."
With the full backing of the Soviets, Tsedenbal successfully purged his political opponents. During his reign as head of the state, Tsedenbal submitted requests for the incorporation of Mongolia into the USSR on five to eight occasions, but these proposals were invariably rejected by the Soviet leaders. At the time of the Sino-Soviet split, Tsedenbal decisively sided with the Soviet Union and incurred China's wrath. In Mongolia, Tsedenbal is remembered for successfully maintaining a path of relatively moderate socialism during the Cold War.
Tsedenbal was forced into retirement in August 1984 in a Soviet-sponsored move, officially on the account of his old age and mental weakness but at least partly because of his opposition to the process of Sino-Soviet rapprochement that had started with Leonid Brezhnev's Tashkent speech in March 1982. Jambyn Batmönkh became the general secretary of the MPRP. Tsedenbal was removed a month after receiving Chairman of the Vietnamese Council of State Trường Chinh and just days away before he was due to attend a ceremony in honor of the 45th anniversary of the Soviet-Mongolian victory in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.
Tsedenbal remained in Moscow until his death; his body was brought to Mongolia, where it was buried.