in 1991. He was the only general secretary in the history of the Soviet Union
to have been born during the Communist rule.
Gorbachev was born in Stavropol Krai
into a peasant Ukrainian
family, and in his teens operated combine harvester
s on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University
in 1955 with a degree in law.
1985 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the Soviet Union's leader.
1985 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declares a moratorium on the deployment of middle-range missiles in Europe.
1985 Cold War: In Geneva, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet for the first time.
1986 Cold War: U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Reykjavík, Iceland, in an effort to continue discussions about scaling back their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe.
1986 Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, releases Andrei Sakharov and his wife from internal exile in Gorky.
1987 Cold War: At the Brandenburg Gate U.S. President Ronald Reagan publicly challenges Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
1988 U.S. President Ronald Reagan begins his first visit to the Soviet Union when he arrives in Moscow for a superpower summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
1989 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Havana, Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro in an attempt to mend strained relations.
1989 Cold War: In a meeting off the coast of Malta, US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev release statements indicating that the cold war between their nations may be coming to an end.
1990 Mikhail Gorbachev is elected as the first executive president of the Soviet Union.
Certain people in the United States are driving nails into this structure of our relationship, then cutting off the heads. So the Soviets must use their teeth to pull them out.
Democracy is the wholesome and pure air without which a socialist public organization cannot live a full-blooded life.
If the Russian word "Perestroika|perestroika" has easily entered the international lexicon, this is due to more than just interest in what is going on in the Soviet Union. Now the whole world needs restructuring, i.e. progressive development, a fundamental change.
The Soviet people want full-blooded and unconditional democracy.
Dangers await only those who do not react to life.
I believe, as Vladimir Lenin|Lenin said, that this revolutionary chaos may yet crystallize into new forms of life.
in 1991. He was the only general secretary in the history of the Soviet Union
to have been born during the Communist rule.
Gorbachev was born in Stavropol Krai
into a peasant Ukrainian
family, and in his teens operated combine harvester
s on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University
in 1955 with a degree in law. While he was at the university, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
, and soon became very active within it. In 1970, he was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Kraikom, First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet in 1974, and appointed a member of the Politburo
in 1979. Within three years of the deaths of Soviet Leaders Leonid Brezhnev
, Yuri Andropov
, and Konstantin Chernenko
, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo in 1985. Already before he reached the post, he had occasionally been mentioned in western newspapers as a likely next leader and a man of the younger generation at the top level.
Gorbachev's attempts at reform as well as summit conferences with United States President Ronald Reagan
and his reorientation of Soviet strategic aims contributed to the end of the Cold War
, ended the political supremacy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
(CPSU), and led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union
. For these efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
in 1990 and the Harvey Prize
in 1992 as well as Honorary Doctorates from Durham University
in 1995, Trinity College
in 2002 and University of Münster
In September 2008, Gorbachev and billionaire Alexander Lebedev
announced they would form the Independent Democratic Party of Russia
, and in May 2009 Gorbachev announced that the launch was imminent. This was Gorbachev's third attempt to establish a political party, after having started the Social Democratic Party of Russia
in 2001 and the Union of Social-Democrats
Early lifeGorbachev was born on 2 March 1931 in Stavropol
, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
into a mixed Russian-Ukrainian family of migrants from Voronezh
and Chernigov Governorates. His father was a combine harvester operator and World War II veteran called Sergey Andreyevich Gorbachev. His mother, Maria Panteleyevna Gorbacheva (née Gopkalo) was a kolkhoz
worker. In his teens he operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University
in 1955 with a degree in law. In 1967 he qualified as an agricultural economist via correspondence masters degree at the Stavropol Institute of Agriculture. While at the university, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
and soon became very active within the party.
Marriage and familyGorbachev met his future wife, Raisa Titarenko, at Moscow State University. They married in September 1953 and moved to Stavropol upon graduation. She gave birth to their only child, daughter Irina Mikhailovna Virganskaya (Ири́на Миха́йловна Вирга́нская), in 1957. Raisa Gorbachova died of leukemia
Rise in the Communist PartyGorbachev attended the important twenty-second Party Congress in October 1961, where Nikita Khrushchev
announced a plan to surpass the U.S. in per capita production within twenty years. At this point in his life, Gorbachev would rise in the Communist League hierarchy and worked his way up through territorial leagues of the party. He was promoted to Head of the Department of Party Organs in the Stavropol Agricultural Kraikom in 1963.
In 1970, he was appointed First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Kraikom, a body of the CPSU, becoming one of the youngest provincial party chiefs in the nation. In this position he helped reorganise the collective farms, improve workers' living conditions, expand the size of their private plots, and gave them a greater voice in planning.
He was soon made a member of the Communist Party Central Committee
in 1971. Three years later, in 1974, he was made a Deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Standing Commission on Youth Affairs. He was subsequently appointed to the Central Committee's Secretariat for Agriculture in 1978, replacing Fyodor Kulakov
, who had supported Gorbachev's appointment, after Kulakov died of a heart attack. In 1979, Gorbachev was promoted to the Politburo
, the highest authority in the country, and received full membership in 1980. Gorbachev owed his steady rise to power to the patronage of Mikhail Suslov
, the powerful chief ideologist of the CPSU.
During Yuri Andropov
's tenure as General Secretary (1982–1984), Gorbachev became one of the Politburo's most visible and active members. With responsibility over personnel, working together with Andropov, 20 percent of the top echelon of government ministers and regional governors were replaced, often with younger men. During this time Grigory Romanov
, Nikolai Ryzhkov
, and Yegor Ligachev
were elevated, the latter two working closely with Gorbachev, Ryzhkov on economics, Ligachev on personnel.
Gorbachev's positions within the CPSU created more opportunities to travel abroad, and this would profoundly affect his political and social views in the future as leader of the country. In 1972, he headed a Soviet delegation to Belgium, and three years later he led a delegation to West Germany; in 1983 he headed a delegation to Canada to meet with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
and members of the Commons
. In 1984, he travelled to the United Kingdom, where he met British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Upon Andropov's death in 1984, the aged Konstantin Chernenko
took power; after his death the following year, it became clear to the party hierarchy that younger leadership was needed. Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo on 11 March 1985, only three hours after Chernenko's death. Upon his accession at age 54, he was the youngest member of the Politburo.
General Secretary of the CPSU
. As de facto ruler of the USSR, he tried to reform the stagnating Party and the state economy by introducing glasnost
("restructuring"), demokratizatsiya ("democratization"), and uskoreniye
("acceleration" of economic development), which were launched at the 27th Congress of the CPSU in February 1986.
Domestic reformsGorbachev's primary goal as General Secretary was to revive the Soviet economy after the stagnant Brezhnev years. In 1985, he announced that the Soviet economy was stalled and that reorganization was needed. Gorbachev proposed a "vague programme of reform", which was adopted at the April Plenum of the Central Committee. He called for fast-paced technological modernization and increased industrial and agricultural productivity, and he attempted to reform the Soviet bureaucracy to be more efficient and prosperous.
Gorbachev soon realized that fixing the Soviet economy would be nearly impossible without reforming the political and social structure of the Communist nation. Gorbachev also initiated the concept of gospriyomka (state acceptance of production) during his time as leader, which represented state approval of goods in an effort to maintain quality control and combat inferior manufacturing.
He made a speech in May 1985 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) advocating widespread reforms. The reforms began in personnel changes; the most notable change was the replacement of Andrei Gromyko
as Minister of Foreign Affairs with Eduard Shevardnadze
. Gromyko, disparaged as "Mr Nyet" in the West, had served for 28 years as Minister of Foreign Affairs and was considered an 'old thinker'. Robert D. English notes that, despite Shevardnadze's diplomatic inexperience, Gorbachev "shared with him an outlook" and experience in managing an agricultural region of the Soviet Union (Georgia), which meant that both had weak links to the powerful military-industrial complex
A number of reformist ideas were discussed by Politburo members. One of the first reforms Gorbachev introduced was the anti-alcohol campaign, begun in May 1985, which was designed to fight widespread alcoholism in the Soviet Union. Prices of vodka, wine, and beer were raised, and their sales were restricted. It was pursued vigorously and cut both alcohol sales and government revenue. It was a serious blow to the state budget—a loss of approximately 100 billion rubles according to Alexander Yakovlev
—after alcohol production migrated to the black market economy. The program proved to be a useful symbol for change in the country, however.
The purpose of reform, however, was to prop up the centrally-planned economy
, not transition to market socialism
. Speaking in late summer 1985 to the secretaries for economic affairs of the central committees of the East European communist parties, Gorbachev said: "Many of you see the solution to your problems in resorting to market mechanisms in place of direct planning. Some of you look at the market as a lifesaver for your economies. But, comrades, you should not think about lifesavers but about the ship, and the ship is socialism."
According to Gorbachev, perestroika was the "conference of development of democracy, socialist self-government, encouragement of initiative and creative endeavor, improved order and disciple, more glasnost, criticism and self-criticism in all spheres of our society. It is utmost respect for the individual and consideration for personal dignity."
Domestic changes continued apace. In a bombshell speech during Armenian SSR
's Central Committee Plenum of the Communist Party the young First Secretary of Armenia's Hrazdan Regional Communist Party, Hayk Kotanjian, criticised rampant corruption in the Armenian Communist Party's highest echelons, implicating Armenian SSR Communist Party First Secretary Karen Demirchyan
and calling for his resignation. Symbolically, intellectual Andrei Sakharov
was invited to return to Moscow by Gorbachev in December 1986 after six years of internal exile in Gorky
. During the same month, however, signs of the nationalities problem that would haunt the later years of the Soviet Union surfaced as riots, named Jeltoqsan
, occurred in Kazakhstan after Dinmukhamed Kunayev was replaced as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
The Central Committee
Plenum in January 1987 would see the crystallisation of Gorbachev's political reforms, including proposals for multi-candidate elections and the appointment of non-Party members to government positions. He also first raised the idea of expanding co-operatives at the plenum. Economic reforms took up much of the rest of 1987, as a new law giving enterprises more independence was passed in June and Gorbachev released a book, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, in November, elucidating his main ideas for reform. In 1987 he rehabilitated many opponents of Joseph Stalin
, another part of the De-Stalinization, which began in 1956, when Lenin's Testament
Glasnost1988 would see Gorbachev's introduction of glasnost, which gave new freedoms to the Soviet people, including greater freedom of speech. This was a radical change, as control of speech and suppression of government criticism had previously been a central part of the Soviet system. The press became far less controlled, and thousands of political prisoners and many dissidents were released. Gorbachev's goal in undertaking glasnost was to pressure conservatives within the CPSU who opposed his policies of economic restructuring, and he also hoped that through different ranges of openness, debate and participation, the Soviet people would support his reform initiatives. At the same time, he opened himself and his reforms up for more public criticism, evident in Nina Andreyeva
's critical letter in a March edition of Sovetskaya Rossiya. Gorbachev acknowledged that his liberalising policies of glasnost and perestroika owed a great deal to Alexander Dubček
's "Socialism with a human face".
The Law on Cooperatives
enacted in May 1988 was perhaps the most radical of the economic reforms during the early part of the Gorbachev era. For the first time since Vladimir Lenin
's New Economic Policy
, the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the service, manufacturing, and foreign-trade sectors. The law initially imposed high taxes and employment restrictions, although these were ignored by some SSRs. Later the restrictions were revised to avoid discouraging private-sector activity. Under the provision for private ownership, cooperative restaurants, shops, and manufacturers became part of the Soviet scene. Under the new law, the restructuring of large 'All-Union' industrial organisations also began. Aeroflot
was split up, eventually becoming several independent airlines. These newly autonomous business organisations were encouraged to seek foreign investment.
In June 1988, at the CPSU's Party Conference, Gorbachev launched radical reforms meant to reduce party control of the government apparatus. He proposed a new executive in the form of a presidential system, as well as a new legislative element, to be called the Congress of People's Deputies. Elections to the Congress of People's Deputies were held throughout the Soviet Union in March and April 1989. This was the first free election in the Soviet Union since 1917. Gorbachev became Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (or head of state) on 25 May 1989.
Presidency of the USSROn 15 March 1990, Gorbachev was elected as the first executive President of the Soviet Union
with 59% of the Deputies' votes being an unopposed candidate. The Congress met for the first time on 25 May in order to elect representatives from Congress to sit on the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, the Congress posed problems for Gorbachev; its sessions were televised, airing more criticism and encouraging people to expect ever more rapid reform. In the elections, many Party candidates were defeated. Furthermore, Boris Yeltsin
was elected in Moscow and returned to political prominence to become an increasingly vocal critic of Gorbachev.
, U.S. President Ronald Reagan
, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
—who famously remarked: "I like Mr. Gorbachev; we can do business together."
Gorbachev understood the link between achieving international détente and domestic reform and thus began extending 'New Thinking' abroad immediately. On 8 April 1985, he announced the suspension of the deployment of SS-20s in Europe as a move towards resolving intermediate-range nuclear weapons (INF) issues. Later that year, in September, Gorbachev proposed that the Soviets and Americans both cut their nuclear arsenals in half. He went to France on his first trip abroad as Soviet leader in October. November saw the Geneva Summit
between Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan
. Though no concrete agreement was made, Gorbachev and Reagan struck a personal relationship and decided to hold further meetings.
January 1986 would see Gorbachev make his boldest international move so far, when he announced his proposal for the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe and his strategy for eliminating all nuclear weapons by the year 2000 (often referred to as the 'January Proposal'). He also began the process of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan
and Mongolia on 28 July. Nonetheless, many observers, such as Jack F. Matlock Jr.
(despite generally praising Gorbachev as well as Reagan), have criticized Gorbachev for taking too long to achieve withdrawal from the Afghanistan War
, citing it as an example of lingering elements of 'old thinking' in Gorbachev.
On 11 October 1986, Gorbachev and Reagan met in Reykjavík
, Iceland at Höfði
to discuss reducing intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe. To the immense surprise of both men's advisers, the two agreed in principle to removing INF systems from Europe and to equal global limits of 100 INF missile warheads. They also essentially agreed in principle to eliminate all nuclear weapons in 10 years (by 1996), instead of by the year 2000 as in Gorbachev's original outline. Continuing trust issues, particularly over reciprocity and Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)
, meant that the summit is often regarded as a failure for not producing a concrete agreement immediately, or for leading to a staged elimination of nuclear weapons. In the long term, nevertheless, this would culminate in the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
in 1987, after Gorbachev had proposed this elimination on 22 July 1987 (and it was subsequently agreed on in Geneva on 24 November).
In February 1988, Gorbachev announced the full withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. The withdrawal was completed the following year, although the civil war continued as the Mujahedin pushed to overthrow the pro-Soviet Najibullah
government. An estimated 28,000 Soviets were killed between 1979 and 1989 as a result of the Afghanistan War
, and allow the Eastern bloc
nations to freely determine their own internal affairs. Jokingly dubbed the "Sinatra Doctrine
" by Gorbachev's Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov
, this policy of non-intervention in the affairs of the other Warsaw Pact
states proved to be the most momentous of Gorbachev's foreign policy reforms. In his 6 July 1989 speech arguing for a "common European home
" before the Council of Europe
, France, Gorbachev declared: "The social and political order in some countries changed in the past, and it can change in the future too, but this is entirely a matter for each people to decide. Any interference in the internal affairs, or any attempt to limit the sovereignty of another state, friend, ally, or another, would be inadmissible." A month earlier, on 4 June 1989, elections had taken place in Poland and the communist government had already been deposed.
Moscow's abandonment of the Brezhnev Doctrine allowed the rise of popular upheavals in Eastern Europe throughout 1989, in which Communism was overthrown. By the end of 1989, revolts had spread from one Eastern European capital to another, ousting the regimes built in Eastern Europe after World War II. With the exception of Romania, the popular upheavals against the pro-Soviet Communist regimes were all peaceful ones (see Revolutions of 1989
). The loosening of Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe effectively ended the Cold War
, and for this, Gorbachev was awarded the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold
in 1989 and the Nobel Peace Prize
on 15 October 1990.
The rest of 1989 was taken up by the increasingly problematic nationalities question and the dramatic fragmentation of the Eastern Bloc
. Despite international détente reaching unprecedented levels, with the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan
completed in January and U.S.-Soviet talks continuing between Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush
, domestic reforms were suffering from increasing divergence between reformists, who criticised the pace of change, and conservatives, who criticized the extent of change. Gorbachev states that he tried to find the middle ground between both groups, but this would draw more criticism towards him. The story from this point on moves away from reforms and becomes one of the nationalities question and the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union.
On 9 November, people in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany/GDR) were suddenly allowed to cross through the Berlin Wall
into West Berlin, following a peaceful protest against the country's dictatorial administration, including a demonstration by some one million people in East Berlin
on 4 November. Unlike earlier riots which were ended by military force with the help of USSR, Gorbachev, who came to be lovingly called "Gorby" in West Germany, now decided not to interfere with the process in Germany. He stated that German reunification was an internal German matter.
Coit D. Blacker
wrote in 1990 that the Soviet leadership "appeared to have believed that whatever loss of authority the Soviet Union might suffer in Eastern Europe would be more than offset by a net increase in its influence in Western Europe." Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Gorbachev ever intended for the complete dismantling of Communism in the Warsaw Pact countries. Rather, he assumed that the Communist parties of Eastern Europe could be reformed in a similar way to the reforms he hoped to achieve in the CPSU. Just as perestroika was aimed at making the USSR more efficient economically and politically, Gorbachev believed that the Comecon
and Warsaw Pact could be reformed into more effective entities. Alexander Yakovlev
, a close advisor to Gorbachev, would later state that it would have been "absurd to keep the system" in Eastern Europe. In contrast to Gorbachev, Yakovlev had come to the conclusion that the Soviet-dominated Comecon was inherently unworkable and that the Warsaw Pact
had "no relevance to real life."
Dissolution of the Soviet UnionWhile Gorbachev's political initiatives were positive for freedom
and democracy in the Soviet Union
and its Eastern bloc
allies, the economic policy of his government gradually brought the country close to disaster. By the end of the 1980s, severe shortages of basic food supplies (meat, sugar) led to the reintroduction of the war-time system of distribution using food cards that limited each citizen to a certain amount of product per month. Compared to 1985, the state deficit grew from 0 to 109 billion rubles; gold funds decreased from 2,000 to 200 tons; and external debt grew from 0 to 120 billion dollars.
Furthermore, the democratisation of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe had irreparably undermined the power of the CPSU and Gorbachev himself. The relaxation of censorship and attempts to create more political openness had the unintended effect of re-awakening long-suppressed nationalist and anti-Russian feelings in the Soviet republics
. Calls for greater independence from Moscow's rule grew louder, especially in the Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia which had been annexed into the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin
in 1940. Nationalist feeling also took hold in Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In December 1986, the first signs of the nationalities problem that would haunt the later years of the Soviet Union's existence surfaced as riots, named Jeltoqsan
, occurred in Alma Ata
and other areas of Kazakhstan after Dinmukhamed Kunayev was replaced as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
. Nationalism would then surface in Russia in May 1987, as 600 members of Pamyat
, a nascent Russian nationalist group, demonstrated in Moscow and were becoming increasingly linked to Boris Yeltsin
, who received their representatives at a meeting.
hastened awareness of the national sovereignty problem. The free flow of information had been so completely suppressed for so long in the Soviet Union that many of the ruling class had all but forgotten that the Soviet Union was an empire conquered through military force and consolidated by the persecution of millions of people, and not a union voluntarily entered into by local populations. Thus, the extremity of local desire for independent control of their own affairs took these leaders by surprise, and the leaders were unprepared for the depth of the long pent-up feelings that were released.
Violence erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh—an Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan—between February and April, when Armenians living in the area began a new wave of demands to transfer of NKAO from Azerbaijan to Armenia which eventually led to full scale Nagorno-Karabakh War
. Gorbachev imposed a temporary solution, but it did not last, as fresh trouble arose in Nagorno-Karabakh between June and July. Turmoil would once again return in late 1988, this time in Armenia itself, when the Leninakan Earthquake
hit the region on 7 December. Poor local infrastructure magnified the hazard and some 25,000 people died. Gorbachev was forced to break off his trip to the U.S. and cancel planned travels to Cuba and Britain.
In March and April 1989 elections
to the Congress of People's Deputies took place throughout the Soviet Union. This returned many pro-independence republicans, as many CPSU candidates were rejected. The televised Congress debates allowed the dissemination of pro-independence propositions. Indeed, 1989 would see numerous nationalistic protests. Initiated by the Baltic republics in January, laws were passed in most non-Russian republics giving precedence for the republican language over Russian.
9 April would see the crackdown of nationalist demonstrations by Soviet troops in Tbilisi
. There would be further bloody protests in Uzbekistan in June, where Uzbeks and Meskhetian Turks clashed in Fergana. Apart from this violence, three major events that altered the face of the nationalities issue occurred in 1989. Estonia had declared its sovereignty
on November 16, 1988, to be followed by Lithuania in May 1989 and by Latvia in July (the Communist Party of Lithuania
would also declare its independence from the CPSU in December). This brought the Union and the republics into clear confrontation and would form a precedent for other republics.
Around the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
in July 1989, the Soviet government formally acknowledged that the plan had included the inclusion of the Baltic states into the Soviet sphere of influence, which preceded and paved the way for their annexation into the USSR in 1940. The revelation supported the long-denied proposition that the Baltic states had been involuntarily brought into the Soviet Union and substantially boosted the Baltic aspirations to re-establish their independence. Finally, the Eastern bloc
fragmented in the autumn of 1989, raising hopes that Gorbachev would extend his non-interventionist doctrine to the internal workings of the USSR.
Crisis of the Union: 1990–1991
ns demonstrated in favour of unification with the post-Communist Romania; and Lithuanian demonstrations continued. The same month, in a hugely significant move, Armenia asserted its right to veto laws coming from the All-Union level, thus intensifying the 'war of laws' between republics and Moscow.
Soon after, the CPSU, which had already lost much of its control, began to lose even more power as Gorbachev deepened political reform. The February Central Committee Plenum advocated multi-party elections; local elections held between February and March returned a large number of pro-independence candidates. The Congress of People's Deputies then amended the Soviet Constitution in March, removing Article 6, which guaranteed the monopoly of the CPSU. The process of political reform was therefore coming from above and below, and was gaining a momentum that would augment republican nationalism. Soon after the constitutional amendment, Lithuania declared independence and elected Vytautas Landsbergis
as Chairman of the Supreme Council (head of state).
On 15 March, Gorbachev himself was elected as the only President of the Soviet Union
by the Congress of People's Deputies and chose a Presidential Council
of 15 politicians. Gorbachev was essentially creating his own political support base independent of CPSU conservatives and radical reformers. The new Executive was designed to be a powerful position to guide the spiraling reform process, and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union and Congress of People's Deputies had already given Gorbachev increasingly presidential powers in February. This would be again a source of criticism from reformers. Despite the apparent increase in Gorbachev's power, he was unable to stop the process of nationalistic assertion. Further embarrassing facts about Soviet history were revealed in April, when the government admitted that the NKVD
had carried out the infamous Katyn Massacre
of Polish army officers during World War II; previously, the USSR had blamed Nazi Germany
. More significantly for Gorbachev's position, Boris Yeltsin was reaching a new level of prominence, as he was elected Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR
in May, effectively making him the de jure leader of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
. Problems for Gorbachev would once more come from the Russian parliament in June, when it declared the precedence of Russian laws over All-Union level legislation.
Gorbachev's personal position continued changing. At the 28th CPSU Congress in July, Gorbachev was re-elected General Secretary but this position was now completely independent of Soviet government, and the Politburo had no say in the ruling of the country. Gorbachev further reduced Party power in the same month, when he issued a decree abolishing Party control of all areas of the media and broadcasting. At the same time, Gorbachev was working to consolidate his presidential position, culminating in the Supreme Soviet granting him special powers to rule by decree in September in order to pass a much-needed plan for transition to a market economy. However, the Supreme Soviet could not agree on which program to adopt. Gorbachev pressed on with political reform, his proposal for setting up a new Soviet government, with a Soviet of the Federation consisting of representatives from all 15 republics, was passed through the Supreme Soviet in November. In December, Gorbachev was once more granted increased executive power by the Supreme Soviet, arguing that such moves were necessary to counter "the dark forces of nationalism". Such moves led to Eduard Shevardnadze's
resignation; Gorbachev's former ally warned of an impending dictatorship. This move was a serious blow to Gorbachev personally and to his efforts for reform.
Meanwhile, Gorbachev was losing further ground to nationalists. October 1990 saw the founding of DemRossiya
, the Russian pro-reform coalition; a few days later, both Ukraine and Russia declared their laws completely sovereign over Soviet level laws. The 'war of laws' had become an open battle, with the Supreme Soviet refusing to recognise the actions of the two republics. Gorbachev would publish the draft of a new union treaty in November, which envisioned a continued union called the Union of Sovereign Soviet Republics, but, going into 1991, the actions of Gorbachev were steadily being overtaken by the centrifugal secessionist forces.
January and February would see a new level of turmoil in the Baltic republics. On 10 January 1991 Gorbachev issued an ultimatum-like request addressing the Lithuanian Supreme Council demanding the restoration of the validity of the constitution of the Soviet Union in Lithuania and the revoking of all anti-constitutional laws. In his Memoirs, Gorbachev asserts that, on 12 January, he convened the Council of the Federation and political measures to prevent bloodshed were agreed, including sending representatives of the Council of the Federation on a "fact-finding mission" to Vilnius
. However, before the delegation arrived, the local branches of the KGB
and armed forces had worked together to seize the TV tower in Vilnius; Gorbachev asked the heads of the KGB and military if they had approved such action, and there is no evidence that they, or Gorbachev, ever approved this move. Gorbachev cites documents found in the RSFSR Prokuratura after the August coup, which only mentioned that "some 'authorities'" had sanctioned the actions.
A book called Alpha – the KGB's Top Secret Unit also suggests that a "KGB operation co-ordinated with the military" was undertaken by the KGB Alpha Group
. Archie Brown
, in The Gorbachev Factor, uses the memoirs of many people around Gorbachev and in the upper echelons of the Soviet political landscape, to implicate General Valentin Varennikov
, a member of the August coup plotters, and General Viktor Achalov, another August coup conspirator. These persons were characterised as individuals "who were prepared to remove Gorbachev from his presidential office unconstitutionally" and "were more than capable of using unauthorised violence against nationalist separatists some months earlier". Brown
criticises Gorbachev for "a conscious tilt in the direction of the conservative forces he was trying to keep within an increasingly fragile coalition" who would later betray him; he also criticises Gorbachev "for his tougher line and heightened rhetoric against the Lithuanians in the days preceding the attack and for his slowness in condemning the killings" but notes that Gorbachev did not approve any action and was seeking political solutions.
As a result of continued violence, at least 14 civilians were killed and more than 600 injured from 11–13 January 1991 in Vilnius
, Lithuania. The strong Western reaction and the actions of Russian democratic forces put the president and government of the Soviet Union into an awkward situation, as news of support for Lithuanians from Western democracies started to appear. Further problems surfaced in Riga
, Latvia, on 20 and 21 January, where OMON (special Ministry of the Interior) troops killed 4 people. Archie Brown suggests that Gorbachev's response this time was better, condemning the rogue action, sending his condolences and suggesting that secession could take place if it went through the procedures outlined in the Soviet constitution. According to Gorbachev's aide, Shakhnazarov (quoted by Archie Brown), Gorbachev was finally beginning to accept the inevitability of "losing" the Baltic republics, although he would try all political means to preserve the Union. Brown believes that this put him in "imminent danger" of being overthrown by hard-liners against the secession.
Gorbachev thus continued to draw up a new treaty of union which would have created a truly voluntary federation in an increasingly democratised Soviet Union. The new treaty was strongly supported by the Central Asian republics, who needed the economic power and markets of the Soviet Union to prosper. However, the more radical reformists, such as Russian SFSR President Boris Yeltsin
, were increasingly convinced that a rapid transition to a market economy was required and were more than happy to contemplate the disintegration of the Soviet Union if that was required to achieve their aims. Nevertheless, a referendum on the future of the Soviet Union was held in March (with a referendum in Russia on the creation of a presidency), which returned an average of 76.4% in the nine republics where it was taken, with a turn-out of 80% of the adult population. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova did not participate. Following this, an April meeting at Novo-Ogarevo between Gorbachev and the heads of the nine republics issued a statement on speeding up the creation of a new Union treaty.
In May, a hardline newspaper published “Architect amidst the Ruins
”, an open letter
criticizing Yakovlev (often referred to as the Architect of Perestroika) which was signed by Gennady Zyuganov
. Many also saw this publication as the start of a campaign to oust Gorbachev.
Meanwhile, on 12 June 1991 Boris Yeltsin was elected President of the Russian Federation
by 57.3% of the vote (with a turnout of 74%).
The August 1991 coup
In contrast to the reformers' moderate approach to the new treaty, the hard-line apparatchik
s, still strong within the CPSU and military establishment, were completely opposed to anything which might lead to the break-up of the Soviet Union. On the eve of the treaty's signing, the hardliners struck.
Hardliners in the Soviet leadership, calling themselves the 'State Emergency Committee', launched the August coup
in 1991 in an attempt to remove Gorbachev from power and prevent the signing of the new union treaty. During this time, Gorbachev spent three days (19, 20 and 21 August) under house arrest at a dacha
in the Crimea
before being freed and restored to power. However, upon his return, Gorbachev found that neither union nor Russian power structures heeded his commands as support had swung over to Yeltsin, whose defiance had led to the coup's collapse.
Furthermore, Gorbachev was forced to fire large numbers of his Politburo and, in several cases, arrest them. Those arrested for high treason included the "Gang of Eight
" that had led the coup, including Kryuchkov
, Yazov, Pavlov
. Pugo was found shot; and Akhromeyev
, who had offered his assistance but was never implicated, was found hanging in his Kremlin office. Most of these men had been former allies of Gorbachev's or promoted by him, which drew fresh criticism.
Aftermath of the coup and the final collapse
Following the coup, Boris Yeltsin
ordered the CPSU to suspend its activities on the territory of Russia and closed the Central Committee
building at Staraya Ploschad. The Russian flag
now flew beside the Soviet flag at the Kremlin
. Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary of the CPSU on 24 August and advised the Central Committee to dissolve. Gorbachev's hopes of a new Union were further hit when the Congress of People's Deputies dissolved itself on 5 September. Though Gorbachev and the representatives of eight republics (excluding Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) signed an agreement on forming a new economic community on 18 October, events were overtaking Gorbachev.
With the country in a rapid state of deterioration, the final blow to Gorbachev's vision was effectively dealt by a Ukrainian referendum on 1 December, where the Ukrainian people voted for independence. The presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus met in Belovezh Forest, near Brest, Belarus
, on 8 December, founding the Commonwealth of Independent States
and declaring the end of the Soviet Union in the Belavezha Accords
. Gorbachev was presented with a fait accompli and reluctantly agreed with Boris Yeltsin
, on 17 December, to dissolve the Soviet Union
. Gorbachev resigned on 25 December and the Soviet Union was formally dissolved the following day on 26 December 1991. Two days after Gorbachev left office, on 27 December, Yeltsin moved into Gorbachev's old office.
Gorbachev had aimed to maintain the CPSU as a united party but move it in the direction of social democracy
. But when the CPSU was proscribed after the August coup
, Gorbachev was left with no effective power base beyond the armed forces.
Following a failed run for the presidency in 1996, Gorbachev established the Social Democratic Party of Russia
, a union between several Russian social democratic parties. He resigned as party leader in May 2004 following a disagreement with the party's chairman over the direction taken in the 2003 election campaign
. The party was later banned in 2007 by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation
due to its failure to establish local offices with at least 500 members in the majority of Russian regions, which is required by Russian law for a political organization to be listed as a party. Later that year, Gorbachev founded a new political party, called the Union of Social-Democrats
. In June 2004, Gorbachev represented Russia at the funeral of Ronald Reagan.
Gorbachev has also appeared in numerous media channels since his resignation from office. In 1993, Gorbachev appeared as himself in the Wim Wenders
film Faraway, So Close!
, the sequel to Wings of Desire
. In 1997, Gorbachev appeared with his granddaughter Anastasia in an internationally screened television commercial for Pizza Hut
. The U.S. corporation's payment for the 60-second ad went to Gorbachev's not-for-profit Gorbachev Foundation
. In 2007, French luxury brand Louis Vuitton
announced that Gorbachev would be shown in an ad campaign for their signature luggage.
Following Boris Yeltsin
's death on 23 April 2007, Gorbachev released a eulogy for him, stating that Yeltsin was to be commended for assuming the "difficult task of leading the nation into the post-Soviet era", and "on whose shoulders are both great deeds for the country and serious errors."
On 16 June 2009, Gorbachev announced that he had recorded an album of old Russian romantic ballads entitled Songs for Raisa to raise money for a charity dedicated to his late wife. On the album, he sings the songs himself accompanied by Russian musician Andrei Makarevich
Since his resignation, Gorbachev has remained involved in world affairs. He founded the Gorbachev Foundation
in 1992, headquartered in San Francisco. He later founded Green Cross International
, with which he was one of three major sponsors of the Earth Charter
. He also became a member of the Club of Rome
and the Club of Madrid
, an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries.
In the decade that followed the Cold War, Gorbachev opposed both the U.S.-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and the U.S.-led Iraq War in 2003. On 27 July 2007, Gorbachev criticized U.S. foreign policy: “What has followed are unilateral actions, what has followed are wars, what has followed is ignoring the UN Security Council, ignoring international law and ignoring the will of the people, even the American people,” he said. That same year, he visited New Orleans, a city hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina
, and promised he would return in 2011 to personally lead a local revolution if the U.S. government had not repaired the levees by that time. He said that revolutionary action should be a last resort.
, in a 12 August 2008 op-ed essay in The Washington Post
, Gorbachev criticized the U.S. support for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
and for moving to bring the Caucasus
into the sphere of its national interest. He later said the following:
In September 2008 Gorbachev announced he would make a comeback to Russian politics along with a former KGB
officer, Alexander Lebedev
. Their party is known as the Independent Democratic Party of Russia
. He also is part owner of the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta
On 20 March 2009, Gorbachev met with United States President Barack Obama
and Vice President Joe Biden
in efforts to "reset" strained relations between Russia and the United States.
On 27 March 2009, Gorbachev visited Eureka College
, Illinois, which is the alma mater of former president Ronald Reagan
. He toured the campus and later traveled to Peoria, Illinois
, as the keynote speaker at the Reagan Day Dinner.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gorbachev accompanied former Polish leader Lech Wałęsa
and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
at a celebration in Berlin on 9 November 2009.
On 27 October 2010, it was announced that a gala evening is being prepared to celebrate Gorbachev’s 80th birthday at the Royal Albert Hall
in London. Senior statesmen including Sir John Major and Gerhard Schroeder will be in attendance for the charity event in March 2011. The event's objective is to raise £5 million for cancer charities and the fundraising is supported by stars including Bono
, Jose Carreras
, Hugh Grant
, Elizabeth Hurley
and Alan Rickman
On 7 June 2010, Gorbachev gave an interview before an "almost an annual pilgrimage" to London for a summer gala to raise money for The Raisa Gorbachev Foundation, which funds cancer care for children. The clinic in St. Petersburg can house 80 child patients.
From the Interview:
"Her death, after several years of ill-health, left Gorbachev bereft. He lives in Moscow, has not remarried and finds solace with his daughter and grand-daughters.
He would not be coaxed to talk about Raisa, except fleetingly in the context of the charity. "
Criticism of Vladimir PutinSince at least March 2011, Gorbachev has become critical of Putin and Medvedev's government. His main grievances about the "tandem" are backsliding on democracy, corruption and the dominance of security officers. Gorbachev is also dissatisfied by the fact that he has not been allowed to register his social democratic party.
When being interviewed by the BBC to reflect on the 20th anniversary of the August Coup, Gorbachev again announced his dissatisfaction with the policies and rule of Putin. Speaking of the status of democracy in the Russian Federation, he proclaimed: "The electoral system we had was nothing remarkable but they have literally castrated it." Gorbachev also stated that he believes Putin should not seek a third term as the Russian president in 2012.
Call for global restructuringGorbachev calls for a kind of perestroika or restructuring of societies around the world, starting in particular with that of the United States, because he is of the view that the economic crisis of 2007–present shows that the Washington Consensus
economic model is a failure that will sooner or later have to be replaced. According to Gorbachev, countries that have rejected the Washington consensus and the International Monetary Fund
approach to economic development, such as Brazil and China, have done far better economically on the whole and achieved far more fair results for the average citizen, than countries that have accepted it.
Honours and accolades
Soviet Union and Russia Decorations
- Order of St. Andrew the first-called (2011), The highest state decoration of RussiaRussiaRussia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...
. He was awarded because of his hard work during his USSR leadership.
- Order of Honour (2001)
- Order of LeninOrder of LeninThe Order of Lenin , named after the leader of the Russian October Revolution, was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union...
(1971, 1973, 1981)
- Order of October Revolution (1978)
- Order of the Red Banner of LabourOrder of the Red Banner of LabourThe Order of the Red Banner of Labour was an order of the Soviet Union for accomplishments in labour and civil service. It is the labour counterpart of the military Order of the Red Banner. A few institutions and factories, being the pride of Soviet Union, also received the order.-History:The Red...
(1947) He was awarded when he was only 16 and was one of the youngest recipient of the award.
- Order of the Badge of Honour (1966)
Foreign decorations and awards
- In 1990, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace PrizeNobel Peace PrizeThe Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...
for "his leading role in the peace process which today characterizes important parts of the international community."
- On 4 May 1992, Gorbachev was awarded the first ever Ronald Reagan Freedom AwardRonald Reagan Freedom AwardThe Ronald Reagan Freedom Award is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the private Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. The award is given to "those who have made monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of freedom worldwide."...
at the Ronald Reagan Presidential LibraryRonald Reagan Presidential LibraryThe Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs is the presidential library and final resting place of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. Designed by Hugh Stubbins and Associates, the library is located in Simi Valley, California, about northwest of...
in Simi ValleySimi ValleySimi Valley is a synclinal valley in Southern California in the United States. It is an enclosed or hidden valley surrounded by mountains and hills. It is connected to the San Fernando Valley to the east by the Santa Susana Pass & 118 freeway, and in the west the narrows of the Arroyo Simi and 118...
- In 1993 Gorbachev was awarded a Legum Doctor, honoris causa from Carleton UniversityCarleton UniversityCarleton University is a comprehensive university located in the capital of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. The enabling legislation is The Carleton University Act, 1952, S.O. 1952. Founded as a small college in 1942, Carleton now offers over 65 programs in a diverse range of disciplines. Carleton has...
in OttawaOttawaOttawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...
, Canada. He was also given an honorary degree from The University of CalgaryUniversity of CalgaryThe University of Calgary is a public research university located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Founded in 1966 the U of C is composed of 14 faculties and more than 85 research institutes and centres.More than 25,000 undergraduate and 5,500 graduate students are currently...
in CalgaryCalgaryCalgary is a city in the Province of Alberta, Canada. It is located in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, approximately east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies...
, Alberta, Canada. In the same year, he was conferred with the Freedom of the City of AberdeenFreedom of the City of AberdeenAberdeen's Freedom ceremony has its origins in the 12th Century. There have been 38 Freedom ceremonies in Aberdeen since the start of the 20th Century...
- Gorbachev was the 1994 recipient of the Grawemeyer AwardGrawemeyer AwardThe Grawemeyer Awards are five awards given annually by the University of Louisville in the state of Kentucky, United States. The prizes are presented to individuals in the fields of education, ideas improving world order, music composition, religion, and psychology...
for improving world order, awarded by the University of LouisvilleUniversity of LouisvilleThe University of Louisville is a public university in Louisville, Kentucky. When founded in 1798, it was the first city-owned public university in the United States and one of the first universities chartered west of the Allegheny Mountains. The university is mandated by the Kentucky General...
- In 1995, Gorbachev received an Honorary Doctorate from Durham UniversityDurham UniversityThe University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...
, County Durham, England for his contribution to "the cause of political tolerance and an end to Cold War-style confrontation".
- For his historic role in the evolution of glasnostGlasnostGlasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...
, and for his leadership in the disarmament negotiations with the United States during the Reagan administration, Gorbachev was awarded the Courage of Conscience award 20 October 1996.
- In 2002, Gorbachev received an honorary degree of a Doctor in Laws (LL.D.) "in recognition of his political service and contribution to peace" from Trinity College, DublinTrinity College, DublinTrinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...
- Gorbachev, together with Bill ClintonBill ClintonWilliam Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...
and Sophia LorenSophia LorenSophia Loren, OMRI is an Italian actress.In 1962, Loren won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Two Women, along with 21 awards, becoming the first actress to win an Academy Award for a non-English-speaking performance...
, were awarded the 2004 Grammy AwardGrammy AwardA Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...
for Best Spoken Word Album for ChildrenGrammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for ChildrenThe Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children was an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to recording artists for works containing quality "spoken word" performances aimed at children...
for their recording of Sergei Prokofiev'sSergei ProkofievSergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...
Peter and the WolfPeter and the WolfPeter and the Wolf , Op. 67, is a composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 in the USSR. It is a children's story , spoken by a narrator accompanied by the orchestra....
- In 2005, Gorbachev was awarded the Point Alpha Prize for his role in supporting German reunificationGerman reunificationGerman reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...
. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of MünsterUniversity of MünsterThe University of Münster is a public university located in the city of Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. The WWU is part of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a society of Germany's leading research universities...
- In 2011, Gorbachev was awarded a honoris causa doctorate from University of LiègeUniversity of LiègeThe University of Liège , in Liège, Wallonia, Belgium, is a major public university in the French Community of Belgium. Its official language is French.-History:...
in LiègeLiègeLiège is a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège, of which it is the economic capital, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium....
Religious affiliationGorbachev was baptised in the Russian Orthodox Church
as a child.
At the end of a November 1996 interview on CSPAN's Booknotes, Gorbachev described his plans for future books. He made the following reference to God: "I don't know how many years God will be giving me, [or] what His plans are."
In 2005, he said that Pope John Paul II's "devotion to his followers is a remarkable example to all of us" following the pontiff's death. "What can I say—it must have been the will of God. He acted really courageously." In a 1989 meeting, he had told him "We appreciate your mission on this high pulpit, we are convinced that it will leave a great mark on history."
Gorbachev was the recipient of the Athenagoras Humanitarian Award of the Order of St. Andrew Archons
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
on 20 November 2005.
On 19 March 2008, during a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of Saint Francis in Assisi, Italy, Gorbachev made an announcement which has been interpreted to the effect that he was a Christian. Gorbachev stated that "St Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, another Christ
. His story fascinates me and has played a fundamental role in my life." He added, "It was through St Francis that I arrived at the Church, so it was important that I came to visit his tomb."
However, a few days later, he reportedly told the Russian news agency Interfax, "Over the last few days some media have been disseminating fantasies—I can't use any other word—about my secret Catholicism, [...] To sum up and avoid any misunderstandings, let me say that I have been and remain an atheist." In response, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox patriarch Alexei II
told the Russian media: "In Italy, he (Gorbachev) spoke in emotional terms, rather than in terms of faith. He is still on his way to Christianity. If he arrives, we will welcome him."
Naevus flammeusThough some suggested that he might have his prominent port wine birthmark surgically removed, Gorbachev opted not to, as once he was publicly known to have the mark, he believed it would be perceived as his being more concerned with his appearance than other more important issues.
- Alexander Nikolaevich YakovlevAlexander Nikolaevich YakovlevAlexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev was a Soviet politician and historian who was a Soviet governmental official in the 1980s and a member of the Politburo and Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union...
, key Gorbachev advisor and ally
- Black JanuaryBlack JanuaryBlack January , also known as Black Saturday or the January Massacre, was a violent crackdown of the Azerbaijani independence movement in Baku on January 19–20, 1990, pursuant to a state of emergency during the dissolution of the Soviet Union....
– Soviet crackdown on Azeri protests in 1990
- Boris YeltsinBoris YeltsinBoris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...
- Dissolution of the Soviet UnionDissolution of the Soviet UnionThe dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...
- Earth CharterEarth CharterThe Earth Charter is an international declaration of fundamental values and principles considered useful by its supporters for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century...
- Index of Soviet Union-related articles
- Revolutions of 1989Revolutions of 1989The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...
- Sergei M. PlekhanovSergei M. PlekhanovSergei M. Plekhanov is a former Soviet Union government adviser who served under the administration of Mikhail Gorbachev. He is also the former Deputy Director of the Institute for the Study of the USA and Canada in Russia, specializing in Russian politics and Russia-United States relations...
, other former Gorbachev advisor on the United States and Canada.
- Gorby80 Gorbachev 80th Birthday Gala Celebration at the Royal Albert Hall London
- The Gorbachev Foundation
- Green Cross International
- Column and op-ed archives at Journalisted
- Column and op-ed archives at Project SyndicateProject SyndicateProject Syndicate is an international not-for-profit newspaper syndicate and association of newspapers. It distributes commentaries and analysis by experts, activists, Nobel laureates, statesmen, economists, political thinkers, business leaders and academics to its member publications, and...
- Column and op-ed archives at The GuardianThe GuardianThe Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...
- Mikhail Gorbachev on the website of Ukrainian Institute of New Virology
Interviews and articles
- Public Opinion about Gorbachev
- The Encyclopaedia of Marxism, from which parts of this article have been taken.
- Out in the Cold Guardian interview 8 March 2005
- TIME 100 for 2004: Mikhail Gorbachev
- CNN Cold War – Profile: Mikhail Gorbachev from the 1998 series
- Biography, talks, tributes and quotes
- Ubben Lecture at DePauw University
- Commanding Heights: Mikhail Gorbachev (PBSPublic Broadcasting ServiceThe Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....
interview), April 2001.
- USSR – USA: Summit Documents and Materials, Washington 30 May – 3 June 1990
- Gorbachev on 1989 – 2009 interview by The NationThe NationThe Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...
- Speech by Yegor GaidarYegor GaidarYegor Timurovich Gaidar was a Soviet and Russian economist, politician and author, and was the Acting Prime Minister of Russia from 15 June 1992 to 14 December 1992....
(acting prime minister of Russia, minister of economy, and first deputy prime minister between 1991 and 1994), explaining the underlying reasons for Gorbachev's politics
- Gorbachev's Legacy Examined, 25 Years After His Rise To Power article by Brian Whitmore
- Chernobyl 25 years later: Many lessons learned free article by Mikhail Gorbachev published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 2011