Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931 in the village of Privolnoye in the Stavropol border area, in a peasant family. In 1950, he enrolled in the law faculty of Lomonosov University in Moscow and joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) while still an undergraduate. After his university years, he returned to his homeland in 1955, where he became the first secretary of the party committee of the Stavropol border area in April 1970, after holding Komsomol and party positions. In addition to his law degree, he also obtained a degree in agricultural economics in 1967.
In 1971, he was elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1978, he became the KB secretary responsible for agriculture, and from October 1980 he was able to participate in the meetings of the highest party body, the Political Committee (PB), as a full-fledged permanent member. He reached the top at an unusually young age in Soviet terms, at the age of fifty-four: after the death of Viktor Chernyenko, on March 11, 1985, on the recommendation of Foreign Minister Andrey Gromiko, the Central Committee of the CPSU elected him general secretary.
From October 1, 1988, he was also the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council, the Soviet collective body of heads of state.
His youthful vigor and initiative lent a new color to the ossified Soviet domestic and foreign policy, ending the period of Brezhnev stagnation. XXVII of 1986 of the SZKP At its congress, he announced perestroika (transformation), the radical reorganization of economic and political life, and the social control of politics with the slogan of glasnost (public) introduced in 1988.
One of the central elements of Gorbachev’s new political thinking was the proposition that every people has a sovereign right to choose. With his leadership, the Soviet Union reached the introduction of the multi-party system and the development of democratization. In the framework of reforming the political system, the institution of the head of state was introduced, and on March 15, 1990, the party secretary general Gorbachev was elected the first – and, as it turned out later, the last – president of the Soviet Union.
Following the changes he initiated in the Soviet Union, the Central and Eastern European countries also moved, and the attempt to build a socialist society in the region came to an end. At the December 1989 meeting in Malta, Gorbachev and US President George Bush declared the end of the Cold War era. The withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Eastern Europe and Mongolia, the regularization of Soviet-American summit consultations, the conclusion of the START treaty aimed at nuclear disarmament, and the realization of German unity brought about a worldwide reorganization.
When Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990, the justification highlighted his merits in the transformation of East-West relations and the fact that he contributed to the strengthening of international trust by creating a greater openness of Soviet society.
Gorbachev let the genie out of the bottle, but the forces thus released swept him aside. He politically survived the August 1991 coup attempt by the conservative camp in Moscow at the cost of losing the position of party secretary general, but Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who saved him, pulled his country out of it a few months later. After the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States on December 8, 1991, he resigned from the post of President of the Soviet Union on December 25.
In the following years, he took part in the 1996 presidential election, founded the Russian Social Democratic Party, which he was the leader of until 2004, and was still thinking about a social democratic project in 2012. In 1992, he founded his international foundation supporting social, economic and political research, became president of the International Green Cross environmental protection organization, founding president of the World Political Forum established in 2003, participant in international conferences, while receiving numerous awards and recognitions. In 2011, he was awarded Russia’s highest award, the Order of Merit named after Saint Andrew the Apostle (Andrej Pervozvanny), and the Franz Josef Strauss Prize in Munich.
In his country, a considerable number of people associate his name with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the chaos that followed, but based on his life path and actions, the world still recognizes him as a respected personality measured by historical standards, as one of the most decisive politicians of the second half of the 20th century.
In addition to numerous articles and studies, he has published several books. In 2012, he dedicated a significant part of his book Face to Face to his beloved wife Raisza, who died of leukemia in 1999. His book After the Kremlin was published in November 2014, which is about the power struggle that led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 2018, he presented his new book In a Changing World in Moscow, in which he summarized the foreign policy effects of the perestroika reform movement, using notes and recordings of his conversations with world leaders.
In recent years, he has been ill a lot and has undergone several operations, but he remained mentally fresh and followed the political events taking place in the world.
Cover photo: Mikhail Gorbachev (Photo: AFP/Malte Ossowski)
Source: Magyar Nemzet by magyarnemzet.hu.
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