Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich

(1931– )
   The last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev oversaw radical changes in both the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and the country as a whole. He presided over the abandonment of the Brezhnev doctrine, and played a major role in bringing about the collapse of communist rule in Eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War.
   Born in Stavropol, southern Russia, Gorbachev began work as a tractor driver and farm laborer at the age of 14. He went on to study law at Moscow University before returning to Stavropol where he rapidly moved up the CPSU hierarchy. Having joined the party in 1952, he became the local head of the Komsomol (Young Communist League) on his return from university, and in 1966 became the first secretary of the Stavropol City party committee and took charge of collective farms. By 1971 Gorbachev was a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and in 1978 he moved to Moscow to become agriculture secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In 1980 he was elected as the youngest ever member of the Politburo, and in 1985, following the death of Konstantin Chernenko, he took over as general secretary of the CPSU, in effect the new (and youngest since Josef Stalin) leader of the Soviet Union. Partly due to changes in the political structure of the Soviet Union Gorbachev acquired several further titles of the next few years: he became chairman of the Supreme Soviet Presidium in 1988, chairman of the Supreme Soviet in 1989, and president of the Soviet Union in 1990. In 1991, following an attempted coup, Gorbachev resigned as general secretary of the CPSU and by December of that year the Soviet Union had ceased to exist.
   Gorbachev’s rise was assisted by a series of mentors, the most important of which was Yuri Andropov who took over from Leonid Breznhev as leader in 1982. The deaths in quick succession of Andropov and Chernenko cleared the way for the younger Gorbachev who soon established his reformist agenda based on the principles of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). These reforms included: greater freedom of expression, for example, the establishment in 1989 of the Congress of People’s Deputies as a forum for debate; greater religious tolerance; multi-candidate elections; fewer restrictions on foreign travel; and the shifting of authority from party to state, for example, by giving power held by the CPSU to elected legislatures in the republics. Despite, or for some because of, these reforms Gorbachev was unpopular, doing enough to anger conservatives and hard-liners, but not enough to please reformers and nationalists seeking change.
   Abroad, though, Gorbachev achieved much greater respect and popularity. The withdrawing of troops from Afghanistan, the normalizing of relations with China, allowing the ousting of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, ending support for wars in Angola and Nicaragua, the halting of Soviet subsidies to Third World communist regimes, signing arms control treaties with the United States (1987 and 1990), and cooperation with the West in the first Gulf War to prevent Iraq from taking over Kuwait all won over Western politicians, commentators and peoples. He was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his efforts to end the Cold War and bring peace to countries such as Afghanistan.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gorbachev,Mikhail Sergeyevich — Gor·ba·chev (gôrʹbə chôf , chŏf , gər bə chôfʹ), Mikhail Sergeyevich. Born 1931. Soviet politician who was general secretary of the Communist party from 1985 1991 and president of the USSR from 1989 1991, ushering in an era of unprecedented… …   Universalium

  • Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich — (1931– )    Born in a village in Stavropol Krai, Mikhail Gorbachev experienced both the privations of Joseph Stalin’s purges and World War II, losing relatives in both. He proved to be an excellent student and was awarded a law degree from Moscow …   Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation

  • Gorbachev, Mikhail (Sergeyevich) — born March 2, 1931, Privolye, Stavropol region, Russia, U.S.S.R. Soviet official and last president of the Soviet Union (1990–91). After earning a law degree from Moscow State University (1955), he rose through the ranks to become a full… …   Universalium

  • Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich — (1931– )    While leader of the Communist Party and president of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev presided over the dismantling of the USSR. He had been brought into the Politburo by KGB chief Yuri Andropov and rose to general secretary of the party… …   Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence

  • Gorbachev, Mikhail (Sergeyevich) —  (1931–) General secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1985–1991), president of the Supreme Soviet (1988–1991), president of the USSR (1990–1991) …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Gorbachev, Mikhail — ▪ president of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in full  Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev   born March 2, 1931, Privolye, Stavropol kray, Russia, U.S.S.R.       Soviet official, the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union… …   Universalium

  • Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev — Michail S. Gorbatschow Michail Sergejewitsch Gorbatschow (russisch Михаил Сергеевич Горбачёв  anhören?/i, wiss. Transliteration …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev — noun Soviet statesman whose foreign policy brought an end to the Cold War and whose domestic policy introduced major reforms (born in 1931) • Syn: ↑Gorbachev, ↑Mikhail Gorbachev • Instance Hypernyms: ↑statesman, ↑solon, ↑national leader …   Useful english dictionary

  • Sergeyevich — (as used in expressions) Gorbachev Mikhail Sergeyevich Khrushchev Nikita Sergeyevich Prokofiev Sergey Sergeyevich Pushkin Aleksandr Sergeyevich Trubetskoy Nikolay Sergeyevich Turgenev Ivan Sergeyevich Stanislavsky Konstantin Sergeyevich… …   Universalium

  • Mikhail — (as used in expressions) Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov Bakhtin Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakunin Mikhail Aleksandrovich Barclay de Tolly Mikhail Bogdanovich Prince Baryshnikov Mikhail Nikolayevich Borodin Mikhail Markovich Mikhail Gruzenberg Bulgakov… …   Universalium

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