Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeievich

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Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeievich (1931– ) Soviet statesman, president of the Soviet Union (1988–91) and general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party (1985–91). After succeeding Chernenko as leader, Gorbachev embarked on a programme of reform based on perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). He played a major role in the nuclear disarmament process, withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan, and acquiesced to the demise of communist regimes in Eastern Europe (1989–90), effectively ending the Cold War. In Russia, the benefits of radical socio-economic change were slow to take effect, and Gorbachev's popularity fell as prices rose. In August 1991, Communist hardliners mounted an unsuccessful coup. In December 1991, the Communist Party was abolished. Gorbachev was forced to dissolve the Soviet Union and hand power to his rival Boris Yeltsin. Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

http://www.mikhailgorbachev.org; http://www.nobel.se