A troubling event in the history of the USSR and communism was the so-called secret speech, formally titled “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences,” delivered by Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956. The CIA was able to get its dirty hands on the speech by way of a penetration agent in the Communist Party and leaked it to the New York Times. This event led to the Khrushchev Thaw and the Sino-Soviet Split which caused a massive rift in the world communist movement and did permanent damage that ultimately contributed to the downfall of the Soviet Union.
Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s alleged promotion of his own personality cult and his purges of the 1930’s. What Khrushchev forgot to mention was that he was complicit in many of Stalin’s “crimes.” Grover Furr, the American academic, has written a book called Khrushchev Lied refuting practically all of his claims. Unfortunately, from my point of view, Dr. Furr and other anti-revisionists maintain that after Stalin everything fell off a cliff and all the leaders that came afterward were actively working to reinstate capitalism. Another book, Is the Red Flag Flying? by Albert Szymanski does a great job of refuting this claim.
The best I can figure is that Khrushchev was part of a peasant / petty bourgeois faction remaining within the Communist Party who resented Stalin because they bore the brunt of the purges. I believe Stalin was trying to protect the party and the working class from those who wanted to reinstate capitalism, or at least reintroduce some capitalist “reforms.” I don’t think anyone can say for certain what Khrushchev’s intentions were. I think it is entirely possible that he believed in communism, but had very different ideas from Stalin and others on how to get there; although, as the saying goes, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.