Gorbachev and the End of the Cold War

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The Role of Gorbachev

  • Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union 1985-1991.
  • When the nuclear power plant exploded in Chernobyl, Gorbachev initially denied that it had happened and that there was no damage caused. The West did not believe him.
  • As well as this, Gorbachev saw Reagan as a 'caveman' and 'mentally retarded'.
  • However he also began to change the Soviet Union by introducing 'Perestroika' (restructuring). These were economic reforms designed to strengthen the Soviet economy.
  • In addition to this, he relaxed the censorship of the press and allowed banned books to be published. This was known as 'Glastnost' (freedom).
  • He decided that change was needed because the Soviet economy was nearly bankrupt and many soviets had lost faith in the system.
  • His popularity increased because he visited people throughout the Soviet Union.
  • He introduced limited democracy by having local elections.
  • All these changes helped Gorbachev in his negotiations with the USA. They saw him as someone who was different from the other leaders of the USSR and someone who was willing to make necessary reforms in the Soviet Union.
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Gorbachev's Impact on Superpower Relations

Things he did that strengthened relations:

  • Talked about democracy within the Soviet Union.
  • Launched 'Glastnost'.
  • Launched 'Perestroika'.
  • Recognised the need to introduce reforms in the USSR.

Things he did that weakened relations:

  • Wanted to save Communism.
  • Stayed silent and lied about the Chernobyl incident.
  • He had very little experience in dealing with foreign policies.
  • He thought Reagan was an evil enemy.
  • It took him a long time to hold democratic elections in Russia.
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