After the August Coup of 1991, Gorbachev understood that influence and support had shifted to Boris Yeltsin. Under his new policy of glasnost (“openness”), a major cultural thaw took place: freedoms of expression and of information were significantly expanded; the press and broadcasting were allowed unprecedented candour in their reportage and criticism; and the country’s legacy of Stalinist totalitarian rule was eventually completely repudiated by the government. Due to senility, Brezhnev had not been in effective control of the country during his last few years, and Kosygin had died in 1980. Mansky has known Gorbachev for more than 20 years. The new leaders, headed by former vice-president Gennady Yanayev have declared a state of emergency. Mikhail Gorbachev and the End of Soviet Power London: Macmillan, 1993. Gorbachev also did not trust Reagan's promise to share the technology with the Soviet Union once it was developed. Gorbachev understood that the defense burden, perhaps equivalent to 25 percent of the gross national product, was crippling the country. In foreign affairs, Gorbachev from the beginning cultivated warmer relations and trade with the developed nations of both West and East. “Dallas” was a hit show on CBS that started in the late 1970s, and was one of the most successful television series ever made. General secretary of the CPSU: perestroika to the fall of the Soviet Union, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mikhail-Gorbachev, Academy of Achievement - Biography of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Spartacus Educational - Biography of Mikhail Gorbachev, Age of the Sage - Transmitting the Wisdoms of the Ages - Biography of Mikhail Gorbachev, The Cold War Museum - Biography of Mikhail Gorbachev, RT Russiapedia - Biography of Mikhail Gorbachev, Mikhail Gorbachev - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Mikhail Gorbachev - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). In 1989 the newly elected Congress of People’s Deputies elected from its ranks a new U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet that, in contrast to its predecessor of that name, was a real standing parliament with substantial legislative powers. Yury V. Andropov and then Konstantin Chernenko led the country from 1982 until 1985, but their administrations failed to address critical problems. The new policy of "reconstruction" was introduced in an attempt to overcome the economic stagn… This meant that all the republics, including first and foremost Russia, could have a similar type of presidency. The Politburo was dominated by old men, and they were overwhelmingly Russian. He demanded the reinstatement of Gorbachev as U.S.S.R. president, but, when Gorbachev returned from house arrest in Crimea, Yeltsin set out to demonstrate that he was the stronger leader. Gorbachev was the single most important initiator of a series of events in late 1989 and 1990 that transformed the political fabric of Europe and marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Mikhail Gorbachev (right) meeting with Ronald Reagan at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1987. In parliament he pilloried Gorbachev, the Communist Party, corruption, and the slow pace of economic reform. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. It was replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a free association of sovereign states founded by the elected leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus (Belorussia). Both as general secretary and as president, Gorbachev supported democratic reforms. Former Soviet Union leader Michael Gorbachev has said he hopes President-Elect Joe Biden's victory in last week's U.S. election will lead to better Washington, D.C.-Moscow ties, though has … He did not regard the structure of the Soviet economic system itself to be a cause of the country’s growing economic problems. On This Day: Gorbachev removed in coup On Aug. 19, 1991, a coup orchestrated by hard-line Communists removed Mikhail Gorbachev as president of the Soviet Union. (Perceptive journalistic account.) Shortly thereafter Gorbachev restructured the Soviet government to include a bicameral parliament. Yeltsin banned the Communist Party in Russia and seized all of its property. The intimate, poetic and revealing documentary explores the world of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union. His efforts to democratize his country’s political system and decentralize its economy led to the downfall of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. On December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned the presidency of the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist that same day. That same day, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. He was elected general secretary in 1985. Under perestroika, some limited free-market mechanisms also began to be introduced into the Soviet economy, but even these modest economic reforms encountered serious resistance from party and government bureaucrats who were unwilling to relinquish their control over the nation’s economic life. Clearly, Yeltsin wished to rid Russia of the encumbrance of the Soviet Union and to seek the disbandment of that body. Reagan insisted the SDI initiative should not be considered a space weapon, but merely a defensive technology. He enacted policies of glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”), and he pushed for disarmament and demilitarization in eastern Europe. Entering into an unavoidable alliance with Yeltsin, Gorbachev quit the Communist Party, disbanded its Central Committee, and supported measures to strip the party of its control over the KGB and the armed forces. He joined the Komsomol (Young Communist League) in 1946 and drove a combine harvester at a state farm in Stavropol for the next four years. By the summer of 1990 he had agreed to the reunification of East with West Germany and even assented to the prospect of that reunified nation’s becoming a member of the Soviet Union’s longtime enemy, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. To this end, he called for rapid technological modernization and increased worker productivity, and he tried to make the cumbersome Soviet bureaucracy more efficient and responsive. Gorbachev therefore transformed Soviet foreign policy. Ligachev subsequently became one of Gorbachev’s opponents, making it difficult for Gorbachev to use the party apparatus to implement his views on perestroika. New York: Random House, 1990. Mikhail Gorbachev (centre) in East Berlin, 1986. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Russians began to view the Soviet system as one that worked for its own political and economic interests at Russia’s expense. Gorbachev, however, never succeeded in making the jump from the command economy to even a mixed economy. Chernenko died on March 10, 1985, and the following day the Politburo elected Gorbachev general secretary of the CPSU. Even in his dotage, stooped and tissue-skinned and walker-dependent, the former (and final) Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev is an imposing, even … He returned to public life as an elected deputy from Moscow to the Congress of People’s Deputies in 1989. Pris de court, il donne immédiatement l’ordre de «ne pas se mêler de ce qui se passe en RDA, même après l’ouverture du Mur». Yeltsin appeared to be willing to go along with this vision but, in reality, wanted Russia to dominate the new union and replace the formal leading role of the Soviet Union. In 1989 the parliament elected from its ranks a new Supreme Soviet and made Gorbachev its chairman. Russia systematically laid claim to most Soviet property on its territory. The consequences of this form of a semi-mixed economy with the contradictions of the reforms themselves brought economic chaos to the country and great unpopularity to Gorbachev. When these superficial changes failed to yield tangible results, Gorbachev in 1987–88 proceeded to initiate deeper reforms of the Soviet economic and political system. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned the presidency of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991. Capital investment was to improve the technological basis of the Soviet economy as well as promote certain structural economic changes. As the economic and political situation began to deteriorate, Gorbachev concentrated his energies on increasing his authority (that is to say, his ability to make decisions). In the later Gorbachev years, the opinion that the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and establishment of the U.S.S.R. were mistakes that had prevented Russia from continuing along the historical path traveled by the countries of western Europe and had made Russia more economically backward vis-à-vis the West gained greater acceptance. He thus pursued an economic policy that aimed to increase economic growth while increasing capital investment. He owed a great deal of his steady rise in the party to the patronage of Mikhail Suslov, the leading party ideologue. Mikhail Gorbachev announces that he is resigning as president of the Soviet Union. Directed by Werner Herzog, André Singer. Mikhail Gorbachev, 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 (CPSU) from 1985 to 1991 and president of the Soviet Union in 1990–91. Yeltsin came into conflict with the more conservative members of the Politburo and was eventually removed from the Moscow post in late 1987. New York, 1993. Soviet television has since been broadcasting regular condemnations of Mr Gorbachev's policies. He graduated with a degree in law in 1955 and went on to hold a number of posts in the Komsomol and regular party organizations in Stavropol, rising to become first secretary of the regional party committee in 1970. Mikhaïl Gorbachev, l'ancien président de l'Union Soviétique, à Leipzig, en Allemagne, le 15 mars 2013. Omissions? As the U.S.S.R.’s economic problems became more serious (e.g., rationing was introduced for some basic food products for the first time since Stalin) and calls for faster political reforms and decentralization began to increase, the nationality problem became acute for Gorbachev. Mikhail Gorbachev, 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 (CPSU) from 1985 to 1991 and president of the Soviet Union in 1990–91. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? In foreign affairs, Gorbachev cultivated friendlier relations with noncommunist states, including and especially the United States. His policies were simply not put into practice. The new freedoms arising from Gorbachev’s democratization and decentralization of his nation’s political system led to civil unrest in several of the constituent republics (e.g., Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan) and to outright attempts to achieve independence in others (e.g., Lithuania). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). After the coup foundered in the face of staunch resistance by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other reformers who had risen to power under the democratic reforms, Gorbachev resumed his duties as Soviet president, but his position had by now been irretrievably weakened. In the face of a collapsing economy, rising public frustration, and the continued shift of power to the constituent republics, Gorbachev wavered in direction, allying himself with party conservatives and the security organs in late 1990. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Global Look Press. Over the course of Yury Andropov’s 15-month tenure (1982–84) as general secretary of the Communist Party, Gorbachev became one of the Politburo’s most highly active and visible members; and, after Andropov died and Konstantin Chernenko became general secretary in February 1984, Gorbachev became a likely successor to the latter. When Gorbachev became head of the Communist Party in 1985, he launched perestroika (“restructuring”). In December 1987 he signed an agreement with U.S. President Ronald Reagan for their two countries to destroy all existing stocks of intermediate-range nuclear-tipped missiles. Gorbachev realised military spending had to be reduced and this meant ending the arms race with the USA. TV show Dallas was the main reason behind the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, it has been claimed. When the Congress of People’s Deputies elected the Supreme Soviet as a standing parliament, Yeltsin was not chosen, since the Congress had an overwhelmingly Communist majority. Good pages, light soiling on top edge. In 1988 Gorbachev became Soviet president and chief of state. Mikhail Gorbachev delivering a speech at the 11th congress of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany in East Berlin, 1986. In May 1989 Gorbachev was elected chairman of this Supreme Soviet and thereby retained the national presidency. Learn about Mikhail Gorbachev's efforts to reform the Soviet Union. In 1987–88 he pushed through reforms that went less than halfway to the creation of a semi-free market system. Limited force was used in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the Baltic states to quell nationality problems, though Gorbachev was never prepared to use systematic force in order to reestablish the centre’s control. An ill-conceived, ill-planned, and poorly executed coup attempt occurred August 19–21, 1991, bringing an end to the Communist Party and accelerating the movement to disband the Soviet Union. 1984 The City Where We Live: the Soviet State and Trade Unions. He traveled abroad extensively and was brilliantly successful in convincing foreigners that the U.S.S.R. was no longer an international threat. This responsibility was to pass to the local soviets. Mikhail Gorbachev was named a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1971. At that time, Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia. Gorbachev worked with U.S. President Ronald Reagan to lessen the political and military tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Remnick, David. His primary domestic goal was to resuscitate the stagnant Soviet economy after its years of drift and low growth during Leonid Brezhnev’s tenure in power (1964–82). Gorbachev was the son of Russian peasants in Stavropol territory (kray) in southwestern Russia. At the June 1987 plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), Gorbachev presented his "basic theses", which laid the political foundation of economic reform for the remainder of the existence of the Soviet Union. They were, and they chose Yeltsin. This meant that all the republics, including first and foremost Russia, could have a similar type of presidency. On March 11, 1985, Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1988–89 he oversaw the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan after their nine-year occupation of that country. Gorbachev won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children in 2004, along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. A new parliament, the Congress of People’s Deputies, was convened in the spring of 1989, with Gorbachev presiding. It seems that initially even Gorbachev believed that the basic economic structure of the U.S.S.R. was sound and therefore only minor reforms were needed. At the same time, the Congress, under his leadership, abolished the Communist Party’s constitutionally guaranteed monopoly of political power in the Soviet Union, thus paving the way for the legalization of other political parties. He proved less willing to release the Soviet economy from the grip of centralized state direction, however. The Russian parliament passed radical reforms that would introduce a market economy, and Yeltsin also cut funding to a large number of Soviet agencies based on Russian soil. Throughout 1989 he had seized every opportunity to voice his support for reformist communists in the Soviet-bloc countries of eastern Europe, and, when communist regimes in those countries collapsed like dominoes late that year, Gorbachev tacitly acquiesced in their fall. In so doing, Gorbachev helped end the Cold War. Gorbachev initiated his new policy of perestroika(literally 'restructuring') and its attendant radical reforms in 1986; they were sketched, but not fully spelled out, at the XXVIIth Party Congress in February–March 1986. Dissatisfaction with the Yeltsin administration prompted Gorbachev to run for president of Russia in 1996. The reign of Peter I (the Great; 1689–1725), The reign of Catherine II (the Great; 1762–96), Government administration under Catherine, Education and social change in the 18th century, The Civil War and War Communism (1918–21), The Gorbachev era: perestroika and glasnost, Ethnic relations and Russia’s “near-abroad”, Consolidation of power, Syria, and campaign against the West. The Congress elected a new Supreme Soviet, and Gorbachev, who had opted for an executive presidency modeled on the U.S. and French systems, became the Soviet president, with broad powers. Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart said that former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev told him that the 1980s soap opera 'had more effect' in … He believed that the opening up of the political system—essentially, democratizing it—was the only way to overcome inertia in the political and bureaucratic apparatus, which had a big interest in maintaining the status quo. Moreover, Gorbachev radically changed Soviet political life when he removed the constitutional article according to which the only legal political organization was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. When Brezhnev died in 1982, most elite groups understood that the Soviet economy was in trouble. He did not, however, develop the power to implement these decisions. The new body superseded the Supreme Soviet as the highest organ of state power. Mr Gorbachev famously stated: “The most puzzling development in modern politics is the apparent determination of western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in western Europe.”

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