He was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1985-91), Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (head of state) (1988-91) and the first (and last) president of the Soviet Union (1990-dissolved 1991). Gorbachev is known for forming a friendship with President of the United States Ronald Reagan. Both of them would help end the Cold War.
Secretary General of the Soviet Union
- Perestroika: restructuring of the economy
- Glasnost: gave more freedom to the people, and allowed them to express their opinions more freely.
Indirectly, this may have helped cause the end of the power of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and the break-up of the Soviet Union into smaller countries. However, it should be noted that the need to modernise the economy, and to conduct government less ruthlessly than Stalin, was agreed by the previous two leaders. They, Andropov and Chernenko, were elderly and died before real changes could be put in place.
In 1990, Gorbachev created the office of President of the Soviet Union. It was to be based on the systems in France and the United States. The office merged office of General Secretary and head of state. The President was to be elected by the Soviet People but its only holder was Gorbachev who wasn't elected. Gorbachev saw the office mainly as a position for himself to remain influential in Soviet politics. His main goal was to keep the Soviet Union together, controlled by Moscow.
After the August coup in 1991 Gorbachev resigned as leader of the Communist Party and held onto the Soviet presidency. When Union republics began to turn away from the Soviet system, Gorbachev's power was dramatically reduced. By late 1991 he had almost no influence outside of Moscow. When Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia became independent, Gorbachev was basically a President of a country that only existed on paper. He resigned on December 25, 1991.
Gorbachev studied law at Lomonosov Moscow State University where he also met his future wife Raisa Gorbachova. Raisa studied sociology. After retiring from politics in 1991, Gorbachev started The Gorbachev Foundation, which is currently headed by his daughter Irina. In 2004, he traveled to the United States to represent Russia at Ronald Reagan's funeral.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. He won a Grammy Award in 2004 with Bill Clinton and Sophia Loren for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for their recording of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.
- Gorby80 Gorbachev 80th Birthday Gala Celebration at the Royal Albert Hall London
- The Gorbachev Foundation
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