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Gorbachev- Background

  • Born 1931
  • Studyed at Moscow University in 1950s. 
  • Became a very persuasive speaker.
  • Worked as a local Communist Party Official in home area. By 1978 he was a member f the Central Committee and in charge of agriculture.
  • In 1980 he joined the Politburo
  • Close friend of Andropov who became leader in 1983. Shared Andropov's ideas of reforming the USSR. He was second in command to Andropov.
  • In 1985 he became the leader of the USSR.
  • October 1990 he was awarded Nobel Peace Prize 
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Gorbachev- Why did he want to reform?

  • When he became leader in 1985 he noticed several problems.
  • He found alcoholism played a large role in why work efficiency was bad in comparison to the past.
  • Life expectancy of Soviet men had declined from 67 in 1964 to 62 in 1980 due to chronic alcoholism.
  • There was also low living standards of the population
  • The USSR spent 50% of annual budget on weapons of mass destruction and not on welfare of nation.
  • He complained that while Soviet scientists could send a pin-point accurate space probe to investigate a comet, Soviet refrigerators were shoddy.
  • The standards of building works had also declined.
  • The economy was being run by remote bureaucrats on a trial and error basis.
  • He felt the Soviet Union needed a rethink and was not happy on how things were being run.
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Gorbachev- Policies: Glasnost and Perestroika

Glasnost :  

  • Glasnost meant openess. 
  • It allowed the Soviet people to have freeddom of speech and let them complain about things they didn't like about the USSR without being penalised.
  • It promoted freedom and Gorbachev did not send people to the Gulag if they badmouthed the Soviet Union.
  • It earned Gorbachev's a lot of respect as people weren't feeling as though they were being dictated under a Stalinist.
  • Perestroika meant restructuring.
  • It meant the Soviet Government would open up about areas of the Soviet Union that needed change. E.g it was no longer illegal to buy and sell for a profit.
  • The arms race had drained the economy as it was spending 50% of annual budget on weapons whereas the US were only spending 6%.
  • Gorbachev cut down on Spending on defence. After 50 years the Red Army began to shrink.
  • He also withdrew troops from Afghanistan which brought  a new attitude to the USSR's relations to the world.
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