Mikhail Gorbachev

leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev[4] (sometimes spelled Gorbachov) (2 March 1931 – 30 August 2022) was a Soviet politician and leader from 1985 to 1991 during the end of the Cold War from 1989 to 1991.

Mikhail Gorbachev
Михаил Горбачёв
Gorbachev in 1987
President of the Soviet Union
In office
15 March 1990 – 25 December 1991[1]
Vice PresidentGennady Yanayev
Preceded byOffice established Himself (as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet)
Succeeded byOffice abolished (USSR dissolved)
(Boris Yeltsin as President of Russia)
In office
25 May 1989 – 15 March 1990[2]
DeputyAnatoly Lukyanov
Preceded byOffice established
Himself (as the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet)
Succeeded byAnatoly Lukyanov (as Speaker of Parliament),
Himself (as President)
In office
1 October 1988 – 25 May 1989[3]
Preceded byAndrei Gromyko
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Himself (as the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet)
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office
11 March 1985 – 24 August 1991
DeputyYegor Ligachev
Vladimir Ivashko (1990-1991)
Preceded byKonstantin Chernenko
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

(1931-03-02)2 March 1931
Privolnoye, Stavropol Krai, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died30 August 2022(2022-08-30) (aged 91)
Moscow, Russia
NationalityRussian, Soviet
Political partyIndependent Democratic Party (2008–2022)
Union of Social Democrats (2007–2022)
Other political
Social Democratic Party (2001–2004)
Communist Party (1950–1991)
Spouse(s)Raisa Gorbachova (m. 1953–1999)
Alma materMoscow State University
WebsiteThe Gorbachev Foundation

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) . Gorbachev is known for forming a friendship with President of the United States Ronald Reagan and is often associated with the fall of the soviet union

Early life and career

Gorbachev and his Ukrainian maternal grandparents, 1930s

Gorbachev was born in Privolnoye, Stavropol Krai, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union. He grew up in a Kolkhoz collective farm. He did well in school and went to Moscow State University. Gorbachev joined the Communist Party in the 1950s and steadily rose through the ranks.

Leader of the Soviet Union

Reagan and Gorbachev at the Geneva Summit in 1985

Following the Death of his predecessor Konstantin Chernenko in March 1985, Gorbachev was elected as General Secretary. Gorbachev's attempts at reform and partnership with Ronald Reagan led to the end of the Cold War. His main intent was to improve the economy of the USSR. To do this, he set in motion two major reforms:

  • Perestroika: restructuring of the economy
  • Glasnost: gave more freedom to the people, and allowed them to express their opinions more freely.
The Soviet Union undergo extensive political and economic reform under Gorbachev

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 Belarus became independent, Gorbachev was basically a President of a country that only existed on paper. He resigned on December 25, 1991.

Personal life


Gorbachev studied law at Lomonosov Moscow State University. He met his future wife, Raisa Gorbachova, there. Gorbachova 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.

Gorbachev's Body lying during a memorial service

Gorbachev died at a hospital in Moscow on 30 August 2022,[5] at the age of 91.[6] He died after a long illness, however at the time of his death he had diabetes and kidney problems.[7][8]

His funeral was held on 3 September, however President Vladimir Putin did not give him a state funeral.[9]



Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.[10] 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.[11]

In the arts


A Russian play about Gorbachev titled Gorbachev was made in 2020.[12] The play focuses on Gorbachev and the relationship with his wife Raisa.[13]



Gorbachev's legacy is a complex mix. He is credited with reforms like perestroika and glasnost, but his leadership also saw the end of the Soviet Union. Thus, Gorbachev's legacy is a subject of intense debate among historians.[14] Some see him as a reformer, while others blame him for the USSR's collapse.



  1. As President
  2. As en:Chairman of the Supreme Soviet
  3. As en:Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
  4. Russian: Михаи́л Серге́евич Горбачёв
  5. Ljunggren, David (30 August 2022). "Last Soviet leader Gorbachev, who ended Cold War and won Nobel prize, dies aged 91". Reuters. Archived from the original on 30 August 2022. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  6. Heintz, Jim (30 August 2022). "Mikhail Gorbachev, who steered Soviet breakup, dead at 91". The Associated Press. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  7. Lister, Tim (30 August 2022). "Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet president who took down the Iron Curtain, dies". CNN. Archived from the original on 30 August 2022. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  8. Алена Ерохина. "Гемодиализ и ухудшение состояния: Подробности смерти Михаила Горбачева". dni.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  9. Isachenkov, Vladimir. "Putin pays tribute to Gorbachev but won't attend his funeral". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2022-09-01.
  10. NobelPrize.org, "Mikhail Gorbachev"; retrieved 2012-9-19.
  11. "Gorbachev and Clinton win Grammy". BBC News. 9 February 2004. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
  12. "Theatre play "Gorbachev" about Mikhail Gorbachev". Youtube.
  13. Arutyunyan, Ani (7 July 2021). "BWW Review: Gorbachev at The State Theatre Of Nations". Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 13 December 2021. The production runs from October, 2020. Next dates: 8 September 2021
  14. "Mikhail Gorbachev's Legacy | Glasnost and Perestroika | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2023-10-21.

Other websites


  Media related to Mikhail Gorbachev at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Konstantin Chernenko
General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party
Succeeded by
Vladimir Ivashko