|Affiliation||Union of Social Democrats
Moscow, , Russia
|| March 02, 1931
May 19, 2013 12:54pm
Caucasian - Russian - Moderate - Socialist - Anti-Missile Defense - Government Reform - Pro Environment - Pro-Labor - Widowed - Atheist - Straight -
|Info||Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931in the village of Privolnoye, Krasnogvardeisky District, Stavropol Terrritory, in the south of the Russian republic into a peasant family. |
He was only ten when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The experience of what the Russian people call the Great Patriotic War left a lasting impression in the mind of the teenage boy. In 1944, a �killed in action� notice for Mikhail�s father came to the village. Fortunately it was a mistake: Mikhail�s father had survived though was badly wounded. Still a schoolboy, at thirteen, Mikhail started working, helping his father operate a combine harvester. �Father knew perfectly how to operate the combine, and he taught me,� Gorbachev recalls. �After a year or two I could adjust any mechanism. I am particularly proud of my ability to detect a fault in the combine instantly, just by the sound of it.� For outstanding results in bringing in the bumper crop Gorbachev was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. He was only seventeen then and became the youngest recipient of this high award.
Stavropol, the �little homeland� for which he has always retained great love, greatly influenced the molding of his character. In his Memoirs he wrote: �I believe that the perception of your �bigger homeland,� seen through your own and your ancestors� eyes and emanating from the destiny of your own native land, represents patriotism in its true meaning, its roots entrenched in your native soil - rather than being an abstract concept.�
In 1950 Gorbachev was graduated from high school with a silver medal and was admitted to Moscow State University. He studied at the law faculty, graduating in 1955. Later, he took correspondence courses from Stavropol Agricultural Institute, and in 1967 added a degree in agricultural economics to his Moscow law degree.
As a student at the University Gorbachev joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. �On the eve of this event a problem rose,� wrote Gorbachev later. �What was I supposed to write on my application form concerning my two grandfathers, who had both been victims of repressions? Although grandfather Panteley had not been convicted, he had spent fourteen months in prison. And grandfather Andrey had been sent to Siberia without even a trial� Later, at the Lenin district committee of the CPSU I had to explain, by and large, the history of my forefathers.� Nevertheless, Mikhail was no dissident. From his youth he had been active in public life and social and political causes, eager to find solutions to problems. He was elected to leadership positions whenever and wherever he worked.
The university years were prominent in shaping the mind of Mikhail Gorbachev. The �thaw� after the death of Stalin and the XX Congress of the Communist Party, which denounced Stalinism, profoundly affected the life and thoughts of university students. Zdenek Mlynar, one the leaders of the Prague Spring of the late 1960s, was in the same year as Gorbachev, and by no mere chance his friend. Also at that time, Mikhail Gorbachev met Raisa Titarenko. A modest wedding party was soon to follow. Since then and till the end of her days, Raisa Gorbachev was the person most close and dear to Mikhail Gorbachev wherever he worked, no matter in what capacity. She passed away in September 1999.
Having received his degree, Gorbachev was ready to work as a lawyer. At first he was offered a job in the Prosecutor�s Office Moscow, then in the Stavropol Territory. Soon upon his return to the home city of Stavropol, however, he was offered a position in the local Komsomol youth league. He agreed and thus his political career started.
From 1955 to 1962 he rose fast through a variety of Komsomol jobs, winding up as the First Secretary, Stavropol Territory Komsomol Committee, and then was given a party job. In 1966 he was elected First Secretary, Stavropol City Party Committee. In August 1968 he became Secretary, Stavropol Territory Party Committee, and in April 1970 First Secretary, the highest post in Stavropol Territory, which is part of northern Caucasus - one of the largest and economically significant regions of Russia.
Before that Gorbachev had often thought of taking up an academic career. However, after he was elected First Secretary of the Regional Committee he clearly saw that he was destined to life in politics.
In 1970 he was elected member of the CPSU Central Committee. In November 1978 he became a Central Committee Secretary and moved to Moscow. His first assignment was overseeing the country�s agriculture but he soon outgrew it and started to influence other areas of the Central Committee�s activities. His vigor, initiative, democratic and critical mind in assessing the situation in the economic, social and ideological spheres became known not only within the Party but to the public at large.
Two years later he joined the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, the highest authority in the Party and in the country. At a time of stagnation, many people perceived his fast rise as a sign of imminent changes in Soviet society. And changes did come: in March 1985, after three General Secretaries in a row passed away, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Party Central Committee - the highest post in the nation and party hierarchy.
Gorbachev initiated the process of change in the Soviet Union - what was later called perestroika, the fundamental transformation of the nation and society. Glasnost became perestroika�s driving force. A sweeping process of the nation�s democratization was launched and reforms were planned to put the nation�s ineffective economy back on track to market economics.
A big shift in international affairs was effected. The new thinking associated with the name of Gorbachev contributed to a fundamental change in the international environment and played a prominent role in ending the Cold War, stopping the arms race and eradicating the threat of a nuclear war.
The Congress of People�s Deputies of the USSR - the first parliament in Soviet history, made on the basis of free and contested election - elected Gorbachev President of the USSR on March 15, 1990. Prior to this, following Andrei Gromyko�s resignation in 1988, Gorbachev became Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and in summer 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Accordingly, he headed the nation�s Defense Council and was Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the USSR.
In recognition of his outstanding services as a great reformer and world political leader, who greatly contributed in changing for the better the very nature of world development, Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 15, 1990.
Destructive social and ethnic developments, which the emerging Soviet democracy was unable to curb, eventually led to the disintegration of the multinational Union of republics that Gorbachev led. In his attempts to prevent such an outcome Mikhail Gorbachev made maximum efforts, save the use of force, which would have been against his inner principles of political vision and morality.
On December 25, 1991, Gorbachev stepped down as Head of State.
Since January 1992, he has been President of the International Nongovernmental Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (The Gorbachev Foundation). Since March 1993, he has also been President of Green Cross International - an international independent environmental organization with branches in more than twenty countries. Mikhail Gorbachev also chairs the United Russian Social Democratic Party, established in March 2000.
Summing up Gorbachev�s accomplishments over the period of his leadership, Sergey Kapitsa, the noted scientist and public figure, wrote: �We have managed to avoid, virtually unscathed, a nuclear confrontation the world was nearing with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. It�s hard to overestimate that. The next thing we owe Mikhail Gorbachev is glasnost, freedom of speech and the beginnings of democracy, which were making their first steps in those times of high hopes.� Italian journalist Giulietto Chiesa wrote this about Gorbachev�s �post-presidency� period: �I am grateful to him for his having stuck to his convictions over the years that followed, when almost everyone was stained and guilty of self-betrayal. Mikhail Gorbachev remained unstained. He is an example and proof of the fact that it is possible to keep one�s dignity in politics and remain devoted to the ideals of true democracy.�