1980s Soviet policy promoting openness and transparency in government and scrutiny of leaders by the mass media

Glasnost (Russian: гла́сность) was a policy that called for increased openness in government institutions and activities in the Soviet Union. It was introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s.[1] Glasnost is often paired with Perestroika (restructuring), another reform instituted by Gorbachev at the same time. The word "glasnost" has been used in Russian at least since the end of the 18th century.[2]

The word was often used by Gorbachev for policies he believed might reduce corruption at the top, and moderate the abuse of power by the Central Committee. Russian human rights activist and dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva explained glasnost as a word that "had been in the Russian language for centuries. It was in the dictionaries and lawbooks as long as there had been dictionaries and lawbooks. It was an ordinary, hardworking, nondescript word that was used to refer to a process, any process of justice of governance, being conducted in the open".[3]

Glasnost can also refer to the specific period in the history of the USSR during the 1980s when there was less censorship and greater freedom of information.


  1. Milestones in Glasnost and Perestroyka: politics and people. Brookings Institution Press. 1991. ISBN 0-8157-3623-1.
  2. Словарь Академии Российской. Часть II (in Russian). СПб.: Императорская Академия Наук. 1790. p. 72.
  3. Alexeyeva, Lyumila and Paul Goldberg 1990. The thaw generation: coming of age in the post-Stalin era. Pennsylvania: University of PIttsburg Press.