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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931 to a peasant family in Privolnoye, southwest Russia.

As a child, Mikhail experienced the Soviet famine of 1932–1933. Nearly half the population of  his native village starved to death, including two sisters and an uncle.

In his teens, Mikhail operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He joined the Young Communist League (Komsomol) in 1946.

Gorbachev enrolled as a law student at Lomonosov Moscow State University where he also met his future wife Raisa Gorbachova,

Gorbachev in 1966. By Bundesarchiv, Bild  Wikipedia Commons

After he graduated in 1955 Gorbachev held a number of positions in Komsomol and the Party itself, making a name as a reformer and becoming First Secretary of the Regional Party Committee in 1970.

Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and the first (and last) president of the Soviet Union from 1990 until it was dissolved in 1991.

         RIA Novosti archive, image # / CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia Commons
               
Gorbachev introduced radical liberal reforms as the the Soviet Union leader, giving more freedom to the people, and allowing them to express their opinions more freely.

His liberal reforms meant that churches were allowed to reopen. Despite decades of persecution by the communist regime authorities church members were outnumbering communist members in the Soviet Union by 10:1.

Gorbachev’s reforming policies probably helped cause the end of the power of the Communist Party in his nation, and the break-up of the Soviet Union into smaller countries.

He formed a close political relationship with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, breaking the ice at their first meeting by saying he "had no instructions from the Politburo to persuade her to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union."

His attempts at reform and partnership with Ronald Reagan led to the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990 for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.

 Ronald Reagan awards Gorbachev the first ever Ronald Reagan Freedom Award By Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library, 

Gorbachev was  General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until August 24, 1991, when the party was dissolved.

In a nationally televised speech on the night of December 25, 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the Soviet Union. He declared the office extinct and handed over its functions to Boris Yeltsin.  The next day, the Supreme Soviet declared the dissolution of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (also known as the USSR or Soviet Union for short). The flag of the Soviet Union was lowered from the Kremlin and was replaced with the Russian tricolor flag.


After resigning as President of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev started The Gorbachev Foundation, which is currently headed by his daughter.

At the end of a 1996 interview describing his plans for future books, Gorbachev surprisingly referred to God when he said: "I don't know how many years God will be giving me, [or] what his plans are."

In 1997, Mikhail Gorbachev appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial.

Gorbachev 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.

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