History- USSR- Gorbachev Reforms

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  • Created by: Eleanor
  • Created on: 31-05-12 11:27

Gorbachev Reforms


     Glasnost meant 'openness', and involved greater public discussion of, and insight into, decisions and past mistakes. The idea behind this concept was that greater discussion would lead to agreement on and support for reforms within the existing Soviet system. It was also hoped that glasnost would help to eradicate corruption and incompetence.

  • It was NOT a completely free and open society.
  • It was NOT a free press.

     Glasnost promoted greater religious tolerance- over 40000 places of worships were returned to religious use. There was increased intellectual discussion and restrictions on internal movement were relaxed. Works such as Dr Zhivago and Lolita were published and there wass increased public debate on perviously 'taboo' subjects such as abortion. Some of Stalin's victims were also rehabilitated.

     However, there was not complete freedom of discussion. Glasnost faltered from the start when events at Chernobyl were initially covered up.By allowing some discussion, many began to criticise not only past mistakes, but also the current regime and Lenin himself. This undermined the power of the regime by criticising it's basis of existence and led to social instability. There was also greater awareness of failings previously hidden, which in turn developed into calls for Western-style reforms outside of the Soviet system. Furthermore, many of the satellite states and republics saw this as an opportunity for increased levels of autonomy, independence and national pride, which soon led to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and contributed to the break-up of the USSR itself.

Political Reform

     The law on State Enterprises had given more power to the people by allowing them to elect their own managers, and so to Gorbachev, it seemed logical to allow this to develop in the political sphere. Gorbachev thought that Stalin and Brezhnev had distorted the political system, and wanted to take it back to what he thought it had been under Lenin.

  • It was NOT a desire for full scale democracy.
  • it was NOT an attempt to work outside of the existing system.

     Political reforms included

  • Separation of the Party from the legal system- all officials were to be fully accountable to the law.
  • Plans for a new Constitution. This was never cemented as Gorbachev had in his reforms undermined the leading role of the party, and was unwilling to…


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