Due Date June 1


Here you will find all the lecture notes:


What I want you to know: Mikhail Gorbachev is remembered in Soviet history as the man that nailed the first nail in the coffin of Soviet Socialism. His ideas for reform of the Soviet Union’s economy and society were radical in the mid-’80s. He felt that he could somehow improve the Soviet Union and revive its ailing economy. He had no idea that what he started would end the Soviet Union instead of saving it.

I. Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev

Born March 2, 1931, in Privolnye in Southern Russia

Became a Party Boss in the Stavropol krai and by 1985 had become General Secretary of the CPSU

1986, influenced by Yuri Andropov’s attempts at reform, Gorbachev began his period of political openness (Glasnost’) and economic “Perestroika” (restructuring) intended to modernize the USSR and “democratization” the Soviet Government

1990: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his reform efforts.

1991: Removed from office in the August Coup and replaced by Boris Yeltsin.

Today, Gorbachev gives many speeches worldwide and is very busy with humanitarian groups. He founded the Green Cross an international organization that is concerned about preserving the Earth’s environment. He still lives in Moscow.


1986 Gorbachev un-cuffed the press and no longer censored & punished journalists for openly criticizing the government, economy, and political officials.

Dissidents were released from prison. Andrei Sakharov, a prominent Physicist who was arrested on the streets of Moscow and deported to Gorky for protesting the Soviet’s involvement in Afghanistan, was released in 1986.

Banned literature, art, and music were legalized again. Solzhenitsen’s “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, Akhamatova, Pasternak. Now the Soviets could again enjoy the fruits of their famous artists.

Peaceful protests were allowed in the streets. (Tatars in Red Square).

Religion became tolerated again and believers were no longer persecuted.

History, crimes, and mistakes of the Government were revealed. (Stalin, nuclear testing, accidents) So much was being revealed that in 1988, the school history exams were canceled because the Soviet people were only then learning the “real” history.

Chernobyl accident became a watershed. Four days went by before the Soviets admitted to their neighbors that there had been an accident. After that, the Soviets came clean and kept the rest of the world informed about it.

The facts were coming out and the Soviets were demanding more and more. The press began openly printing, with names, negative information re: Govt. etc.

III. PERESTROIKA= “RESTRUCTURING” Gorbachev wanted to revive the sagging Soviet rate of industrial and agricultural output with a two-pronged approach:

1. Psychological: needed to improve worker discipline.

Number one problem: Alcoholism Began a major crackdown on alcohol. The sale of alcohol was banned before 2. The number of outlets sharply curtailed.

Personally visited towns/factories urging people to work harder, warning that if they did not do better their country would suffer. Gorbachev appeared in remote areas that no Soviet leader or Tsar had ever visited.

2. Economic Reform: Goal diminished role of administrative decision making.

a. Sharply curtailed role of GOSPLAN

b. Transferred economic decision making to the enterprise

-had to self-finance & make a profit a failure=bankruptcy

-could choose what they would produce

-could independently import/export without the Ministry of Foreign Trade.

-For greater loyalty in the workplace, workers could now elect managers and foremen by secret ballot.

-Small private business was allowed again.

-Joint ventures with the right to have foreign ownership (49% max.). President and CEO had to be Soviet citizens.


Cooperatives, kiosks, and open markets boomed, and services and foreign consumer goods appeared.

Ex: JV’s McDonalds & Pizza Hut


Stigma on the financially successful

If industries sell a product at “market price”, who could afford it?




*The immediate cause for the fall of the Soviet Union.

A. 1989: Congress of Peoples’ Deputies (a new representative organ) was created and filled by competitive elections. 2/3 via local elections in territorial constituencies. 1/3 Reps of “public organizations”. Allowed representatives from the CPSU but also high-caliber deputies from creative & scientific unions. Example: Academy of Sciences (Andrei Sakharov)

1. Inner body-smaller “Supreme Soviet” met constantly.

*Surprise! The real debate took place and political leaders could be called to account for actions. BIG!!!!

*Beginnings of new political coalitions and parties. Although, 87.8% of first deputies were members of the CPSU.

B. 1990-Each republic was allowed to elect and set up its own parliaments.

C. Gorbachev became the first elected president in 1990. Elected by Congress of People’s deputies. The next election was to be nationwide and open.

D. Boris N. Yeltsin became the first directly elected President of Russia in June 1991

*Ended badly for Gorbachev. While on holiday in Crimea, the hardline Soviet leaders barricaded themselves in the White House and attempted to take over the Soviet Union again and turn back all reforms in August 1991. Yeltsin eventually overthrew them, and Gorbachev resigned.





Mikhail Gorbachev: President of USSR/General Secretary of CPS Under house arrest in Foros.

Boris Yeltsin: President of the Russian Federation/Leader of the Defenders of Democracy. In Moscow

The President’s Men:

Alexander Rutskoi: V.P. Russia

Konstantin Kobets: Defense Minister of Russia

Alexander Korzhakov: Yeltsin’s chief bodyguard

Sergei Kovalyov: Deputy

Boris Nemtsov: Deputy

Sergei Yevdikimov: Commander of tanks in Tamansky

100,000+ Moscow patriots



Gennadi Kryuchkov: KGB Chairman/Leader

Dmitri Yazov: Defense Minister USSR

Oleg Shenin: Communist Party Secretary

Oleg Baklanov: Politburo Member; defense industry chief

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