The role of Gorbachev

Balding man in pinstripe suit
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev wanted to radically reform how the USSR was governed, how it operated and how it co-operated with foreign countries. He introduced the policies of glasnost and perestroika in an attempt to improve relations with the West and the state of the Soviet economy.

The policy of glasnost

Glasnost was an attempt to be more ‘open’ in dealing with the West. Gorbachev encouraged people to be more honest when talking about politics.

He supported greater freedom of speech and wanted communist politicians to take criticism on board, look to make changes and stamp out corruption.

The policy of perestroika

Perestroika was an attempt to modernise and ‘rebuild’ the Soviet state.

Gorbachev realised military spending had to be reduced and this meant ending the arms race with the USA.

Government reports had also informed him that more small businesses were needed if the economy was to survive.

The Cold War had begun because each side had the very different systems of communism and capitalism. Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika were to change this. Glasnost encouraged Russians and Eastern Europeans to speak out against communism.