The Last Soviet Leader


Gorbachev’s perestroika (economic reformations) and glasnost (openness) prepared the USSR for democratic reforms and improved Western relations.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR) last leader. He became famous for initiating liberal policies in the USSR, facilitating the USSR’s breakup, the Cold War’s end, Eastern European democratization, and the Soviet and Eastern European Communism disintegration. In 1990, He won the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the late 1980s, Gorbachev’s reforms called perestroika (economic reformations) and glasnost’ (openness) prepared the USSR for democratic reforms and improved relations with the West, particularly the United States. In 1987, Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed a treaty for the elimination of ground-launched missiles, mid-range missiles, and short-range nuclear missiles. In 1991, Gorbachev left power when the USSR’s member states voted to dismantle the federation. Gorbachev’s Political career created and shaped his Russian legacy.

Gorbachev’s Political Career

In 1952, Gorbachev became a full member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) while studying law at Moscow State University. In 1956, he became first party secretary of the Communist Youth League for the city of Stavropol’. In 1978, he served as the Central Committee secretary responsible for agriculture, increasing his exposure to Soviet leaders. In 1980, he became the youngest full member of the Politburo, the Central Committee’s policy-making body.

In 1985, Gorbachev assumed post of general secretary of the CPSU, leader of the Soviet Union. In 1986, he instituted policies of glasnost’ (openness) and perestroika (economic reconstruction) after the Chernobyl’ nuclear accident highlighted the ineffective bureaucracy and unreliable official information.

In February, 1989, Gorbachev withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan. In March, 1989, he called for the first open elections since the foundation of the Soviet Union in 1922. In August, 1991, he survived a coup attempt by Communist hardliners. In December, 1991, he resigned leadership of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev’s Legacy

Gorbachev was the first Soviet leader to resign from office. In 1989, Gorbachev was named Time magazine’s Man of the Decade subsequent to being named Man of the Year during 1987. Despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize and achieving great popularity internationally, Gorbachev’s popularity within the USSR had greatly diminished by 1990 due to countrywide economic difficulties.

Gorbachev’s post government life has been active. During the early 1990s, he created and became president of both the Gorbachev Foundation and the Green Cross International, which make assessments about the changing political, military, economic, and social transformations sweeping across Russia and the world, while he works for the promotion of humanism. In recent years, Gorbachev has publically declared his faith in Christ Jesus after many years of pretending to be an atheist in the Soviet anti-God regime.