Mikhail Gorbachev

Life, Policies, Reforms

The Rise to Leadership

In 1970 , Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed the First Party Secretary of Stavropol Kraikom. After three years of the deaths of Soviet Leaders, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Cherenkov,Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo in 1985.

Being raised in a village, Privolnoye, in the Krasnogvardeisky District. He used this as his motive which lead him towards the Glasnost and Perestroika policy, to improve housing and living conditions.

While in power he revealed the secrets behind Stalin's dictatorship.

Raisa and Mikhail

  • He and Raisa met as students at Moscow University.
  • Married in 1953
  • In the first four years of their marriage, she not find job in accordance with her diploma.
  • She accompanied her husband in all his domestic and foreign trips
  • First time in the Soviet history appearing in public as “First Lady.”= Controversy

Call for Change

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union was engulfed by a multitude of problems.

  • Economy (agricultural sector) began to fall apart
  • Country lacked technological advancements
  • Used inefficient factories = low-quality products

To reform the distraught Soviet Union, the democratization of the Communist Party was promoted through Party Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev‘s policies of “perestroika” and “glasnost.”

New Thinking: Foreign Policies Under Gorbachev

  • Perestroika (Reconstructing)- a policy in the 1980s that required the economy to reconstruct. This implemented wider economic freedoms, including entrepreneurship and private enterprise, all while being under the soviet plan.

(The government decided to end price control.)

= Unfortunately, such an economy took time to thrive, and people found themselves stuck in a worn-out economy, which led to long-lines, strikes, and civil unrest.

  • Glasnost (Openess)- political policy in 1985, that allowed for criticism of past soviet practices. It was created to produce openness and a more transparent government to decrease corruption.

=The outburst of information about escalating crime and crimes by the government, caused panic in the people. This caused an increase in social protests in a nation used to living under the strictest government control, and went against the goals of Gorbachev.

=Distrust of government

  • Demokratizatsiya (democracy)- the infusion of democratic elements in to the soviet unions strail monolithic political process. He hoped to rejuvenate the party with progressive personals who would carry out his institutional and policy reforms

=Citizens felt betrayed

These policies were in effect from 1985 to 1991

"Nuclear War Cannot be Won and Must Never be Fought."

In 1987,Gorbachev calls for nuclear weapons treaty, after meeting with President Ronald Reagan

The U.S. And Gorbachev

  • United States-Soviet relations began to improve soon after Gorbachev became general secretary.
  • First summit meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev took place in Geneva in November 1985.
  • By the summer of 1991, the United States-Soviet relationship showed renewed signs of momentum
-Bush and Gorbachev met in Moscow to sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

-Treaty foresaw a reduction of approximately 35 percent in United States ballistic missile warheads and about 50 percent in Soviet ballistic missile warheads within seven years of treaty ratification


  • Under START, for the first time large numbers of intercontinental ballistic missiles were slated for elimination.
Gorbachev: Reagan Was a 'Good Partner' in Peace


  • Gorbachev, Mikhail. 2000. Gorbachev. NY, USA. Columbia University Press.