Remember the Date: 2 March 1931, the birth of Soviet reformer Mikhail Gorbachev

Week-ending 5 March 2021

Photo: Official CTBTO Photostream Wikipedia

On 2 March 2021 former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev turned 90. He was born on 2 March 1931 into a poor peasant family in Stavropol region. Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1985. He introduced policies of glasnost, perestroika and demokratizatsiya that transformed the Soviet polity. After surviving the coup of August 1991 Gorbachev resigned on 25 December 1991. The Soviet Union had dissolved into its 15 constituent republics.


For an assessment of Mikhail Gorbachev’s career and its significance for human rights, see Andrei Kovalev, ‘Knight of the 20th Century.

‘Mikhail Gorbachev,’ Wikipedia

RFE/RL, 2 March 2021: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev turned 90 on March 2, receiving greetings from the world leaders as well as the Kremlin. Gorbachev is considered one of the greatest reformers of the 20th century. After taking over the Soviet leadership in 1985, Gorbachev introduced his reform policies known as “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (restructuring), which opened up the Soviet Union to the world, and ultimately led to the collapse of the communist regime and the end of the Cold War with the United States. “Your commitment to freedom and your courage over the decades to make the tough, albeit necessary, decisions, have made the world a safer place,” U.S. President Joe Biden wrote in a letter released by Gorbachev’s staff. The letter said that the agreed extension to the U.S.-Russian New START nuclear-arms treaty was proof that the two countries would continue Gorbechev’s “legacy.”

The Mosow Times, 2 March 2021: Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the U.S.S.R., celebrates his 90th birthday today. The longest-living Soviet leader, he is best-known for his policy of reforming the Soviet political and economic system (“perestroika”), as well as for his expansions of freedom of speech and press (“glasnost”). Abroad, he is remembered for his efforts to withdraw the Soviet Union from its war in Afghanistan and to put an end to the Cold War. He marked his 90th birthday in quarantine and like everyone else is “tired” of coronavirus restrictions, his spokesman said.

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