Perestroika, glasnost, the collapse of communism, the end of the Soviet Union. All this relates to Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday.
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev Hundreds of millions of people around the world recognize him as the man who brought freedom and democracy to tens of millions.
tens of millions, mainly Russiahe hates him as the man who dismantled the Soviet Union and brought Russians to a lower position of power and a precipitous decline in living standards.
he won for his role in the collapse of the Soviet Union Nobel Peace Prize Alienation from Russian public life.
Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931 in the village of Privornoye in the Stavropol region of southern Russia. After all, he never got rid of his soft South Russian accent.
Both of his grandfathers experienced Stalinist repression firsthand. His paternal grandfather Andrey, an independent peasant, was exiled to Siberia in 1934 for failing to carry out his plans. However, he was able to return after two years. He understood and immediately preferred to join the Kolkhoz.
Pantelez, the father of Gorbachev’s mother, was even worse. He was a communist and president of a collective farm. In 1937, he was arrested on charges of Trotskyism, likely a firing squad at the time, and spent his 14 months in custody, where he was tortured. He was saved by a “change of party line.” Stalin The security services appeared to be spiraling out of control, and he had the then NKVD head Nikolai Yezhov executed. A wave of arrests broke out at the security apparatus and Pancherei investigators preferred to shoot themselves. Mikhail Gorbachev recalled decades later that his grandfather’s story had made him a staunch anti-Stalinist.
Despite this, Gorbachev joined the Komsomol and began building a career. At the age of 18, he was the first combine harvester to receive the Labor Battalion Medal. He studied law at Moscow State University, where he met his lifelong lover, Raisa Titarenko.
He gradually climbed the career ladder, first as a Komsomol member and later as a party member. The young energetic official somewhat paradoxically attracted the attention of the leading ideologist Mikhail Suslov, a supporter of strict communism. He didn’t seem to know that Gorbachev had doubts about the direction of the Soviet Union.
As a member of Advanced Nomenclature, Gorbachev had the opportunity to travel to the West already in the 1970s. In 1983, for example, he was in Canada, where then-Soviet ambassador Alexander Yakovlev built his image as the new star of Soviet politics. It wasn’t complicated. Compared to other members of the Politburo, Gorbachev was almost two generations younger and had a keen interest in the functioning of the West’s economy and society. Alexander Yakovlev recalled that at that time he and Gorbachev had hours of debate and the possibility of reforming the Soviet Union. Yakovlev later became the main ideology of perestroika.
Three secretary-generals died three years in a row, followed by one after another Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov And with Konstantin Chernenko (an old joke who called this era a “carriage race”), Mikhail Gorbachev became head of the Soviet Union, and things began to change.
Return of dissident Sakharov
Gorbachev was well aware of the catastrophic slump in the Soviet economy, which had lagged far behind the West since the 1960s. His quarter of his GDP in the USSR was spent on armaments and the country had to purchase grain in Canada. The new Secretary General tried to save the situation by introducing elements of the market economy, allowing the creation of the so-called cooperative movement. This was an opportunity to actually do business.
In politics, he created the Glasnost policy which led to the de facto abolition of censorship. He also allowed the most famous Soviet dissident, Andrei Sakharov, to return to Moscow from exile and gradually released all political prisoners.
At the same time, however, he launched an anti-alcohol campaign, primarily leading to the increased burning of Samokhonka and the concomitant disappearance of sugar from stores, and the destruction of many vineyards. They also tried to cover up the accident.
Importantly, however, the economy continued to collapse and the easing of political repression led to the growth of nationalist sentiment in Russia itself and an outburst of ethnic violence in the United Republic. It disappeared, and rationing systems were introduced in many areas.
Joint speech with President Reagan
Mikhail Gorbachev’s fame in the world has grown in practically direct proportion to his decline in domestic popularity. In order to reduce the cost of weapons and provide citizens with at least basic resources, Gorbachev proposed a settlement to the West.
Its main initiator was the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, with which he developed a friendly working relationship.After all, he also found common ground with the President of the United States Ronald Reagan And reached some important disarmament agreements.
On December 8, 1987, Gorbachev and Reagan exchange treaty documents on the elimination of medium- and short-range nuclear missiles between the Soviet Union and the United States. Photo: CTK
His conciliatory approach to the West was based both on a belief in the need for peaceful coexistence of the socialist and capitalist worlds and increasingly on the internal weaknesses of the Soviet Union. The latter struggled mainly around the Baltic independence movements, economic decline and bloody ethnic conflicts.
In this situation, Gorbachev effectively left the eastern and central European vassals to their fate. Thus, he failed to prevent the peaceful collapse of the communist regimes of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Despite the cautious and negative attitude of Margaret Thatcher and the French president, he also contributed to the reunification of Germany. Francois MitterrandThis earned him a Nobel Prize and an important place in Germany’s historical memory.
the end of the soviet empire
This was not accepted by the hardcore Soviet elite. In August 1991, mainly his KGB hardliners staged a coup that isolated Gorbachev while he was vacationing in Crimea.The coup itself collapsed within three days, largely due to the hawks’ loss of control of all power and the resistance of most of the populace to the challenge. Boris Yeltsinthen President of the Russian Federation.
Gorbachev was able to return to Moscow, but found the Soviet Union doomed. The threat of a coup mobilized the opposition, who were still doing it both ways, and in December, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev led the so-called Belovezida. signed the agreement and declared: Dissolution of the Soviet Union and creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Afterwards, Mikhail Gorbachev retreated to a secluded place and simply watched Russia’s stormy developments from afar. He attempted to return to politics in 1996 when he ran for president. However, he received only 0.51% of the vote.
This convinced him that he needed to focus primarily on his personal life, and by occasional trips to the West he found a much more appreciative audience than at home. In 1999, this got worse when his wife Raisa, whom he loved unconditionally all his life, died of leukemia.
He appeared on Russian TV screens again in 2014, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, saying it was a rectification of historical injustice.
His funeral in Moscow won’t likely draw tens of thousands of people like it did when his longtime opponent and successor as president, Boris Yeltsin, died. For most of Russia’s contemporaries, it remains a symbol of the fall of the Soviet empire and its subsequent socio-economic decline.
More sober analysts will remember him as the man who inherited an economically collapsing system with a series of murderous internal conflicts. It sought to return to its roots in the early 1920s, including elements of the market economy.
However, the results of his experiments showed that the entire Soviet system was primarily based on brutal repression. The entire system exploded when the pressure was released.