Mikhail Gorbachev served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991. He was the last chief of state in the USSR, and was in office until 1991 when it collapsed. He became active in the Communist Party in college while he attended Moscow State University studying law. He is known for implementing policies to stimulate economic change and attempting to bring the Soviet Union out of the old ways that he believed were stifling the nation. Gorbachev is credited for acting and creating policies that led to the fall of the Berlin wall. This was largely due to a policy known as the Sinatra Doctrine. Name for the Frank Sinatra song “My Way”, this set of policies allowed the governments of the Eastern Bloc to be more autonomous and make their own decisions. Another memorable policy from Gorbachev was that of Glasnost.
Glasnost was a policy created in the late 1980s intended to make the government of the USSR more transparent and heed the concerns of citizens. Although the government of the Soviet Union was Communist in name, it didn’t emulate the values and structure of Communism and instead reflected a more authoritarian or even dictatorship style of government. Citizens were highly controlled, as what they read, watched and said was monitored and their public lives were enforced in a way to prevent rebellion or resistance.
“Glasnost” is the Russian word for openness and signified a new mood and standard of governing that Gorbachev was attempting to bring to the Soviet Union.
One of the main proponents of this policy concerned freedom of speech of Soviet citizens. This was relevant because the will of ordinary people had been stifled for so long by the large authoritarian government of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev sought to make the management of the nation more out in the open and accessible to debate.
Formerly, the Soviet Union had extremely strict censorship laws. This included other country’s news media, books that the government found disagreeable with their ideology and even cultural objects from other nations like music, movies and so forth. However, Glasnost made formerly censored sections of the libraries accessible to the people once again. Restrictions on the press and media were also lightened.
Because individuals were once again permitted to openly criticize their government without fear of harsh repercussions, many citizens began to vocalize their concerns about what they saw as the failure of their authoritarian government.
Since the media wasn’t under control of the state anymore, they too were more free to report this resistance and run stories that weren’t in the government’s favor.
More about the true life and work of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was uncovered, including mass murder, and the fact that he manipulated his image in the media to appear favorable and dishonesty in running the state.
Gorbachev implemented Glasnost to make the Soviet Union more free and more in line with other modern industrialized countries. Many credit the aftermath and effects of Glasnost as a major key to the fall of the Soviet Union since it allowed individuals more access to the government’s doings, allowed them to interact with the media of other countries and it gave them a voice in their country.
This set of policies also made other countries, especially the United States, more willing to communicate and have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. The plan was for the Soviet Union to become more transparent, and in turn for the leadership of the nation and the Communist Party to be improved. This move brought the Soviet Union closer to freedom and more of a modern nation, eventually leading to the collapse of this formerly strict government.