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Gorbachev and perestroika in the USSR. Year 1986-87
1986 in the History of the USSR
Beginning is in my previous hub Gorbachev and perestroika 1985.
In 1986 the foreign policy of Mikhail Gorbachev was known to the whole world. In 1985 and later in 1986 there were meetings of Gorbachev with Ronald Reagan. His attempts to reduce the number of nuclear war heads were welcomed both by the United States and by the Soviet Union. In this year Gorbachev declared that the policy of military counterfeit has no future. The relations with the United States certainly became warmer and some American films appeared on TV.
A new phenomenon appeared in USSR with Gorbachev – his wife Raisa Gorbacheva. Her appearance on TV caused lots of controversial rumors. She was the first wife of a soviet state leader who escorted openly her husband in all trips. More than that she had her own agenda and her visits abroad were discussed even more than those of Gorbachev. She tried to look European to wear modern closes and to act accordingly, but instead she caused irritation of people in the USSR and pretty soon we started to think that she, not Gorbachev, makes the policy and rules the country.
On the 26th of April 1986 Chernobyl exploded. That catastrophe was later called “a test for openness which was failed by the Soviet Union”. The first information about Chernobyl was published only next day; the first information about “2 people dead and some radiation outburst” was published only 3 days after it. People were evacuated only after several days and majority of people had no idea of what was happening. Panic has started after the radiation came to Kiev and was exceeding normal in 80 times. Statistic said that within first month died 28 people, 125000 died within next 10 years, 135000 were evacuated to other places while 3000000 stayed in the polluted areas in Ukraine, Byelorussia and Russia. The radiation cloud went over the Europe. You can see yourself how a dilapidated city Pripyat looks and make a virtual tour http://maps.yandex.ru/-/CBQIVX6B I was impressed even more than I wanted to.
People started to speak more openly about censorship in culture and a lot of films prohibited in the previous years appeared on the screens. New approaches in economy appeared as well. The government declared a war with illegal labor activities. If you had a greenhouse to grow up tomatoes for sale, it was considered an illegal labor activity. Greenhouses with heating were totally prohibited. People who made handmade items were accused in “receiving income which is significantly more than materials used and labor applied”. In some cases such a labor activity could bring to a sentence up to 5 years. Authorities wanted to implement a law to determine basics of self-employed business but at the same time to forbid a private property on the means of production.
In the year 1986 a program of building houses and apartments for population was adopted. This year and next couple of years became known for massive building of multistoried buildings. The Party wanted to provide each family with an own apartment in the term till 2000.
A first foreign TV soap opera was shown in the USSR. “Simply Maria” (“Simplemente Maria”) from Mexico possessed hearts of millions of peoples. An other film which shook the country was an action film “The Octopus” (La Piovra ) with Michele Placido starring. It described mafia in Italy and an honest commissar who tried to fight with it.
1987 in the Soviet history
In the previous years of Soviet history many cities and towns in the USSR were named after some significant soviet or party leaders. In 1987 they started to rename these cities returning their former names. So all cities like Brezhnev became back Naberezhnye Chelny, Stalinsk – Novokuznetsk etc.
In 1987 it was decided to legalize a self-employed business. Party committee said that a private business is “not our way” but in a sphere of service, public catering and goods production co-operatives were permitted. First joint ventures appeared but they were not numerous because of strict legislation demands. Just to create any JV one needed to get approval in a dozen of ministries including KGB. So the process of JV creation could take from 6 to 9 months. It was much easier to become a self-employed businessman. Lots of them appeared in building industry, transportation and trade. Those who started business in consumer goods production were on the wave of success. People who had a shortage of closes were ready to buy anything.
The new times required new fashions and population of the country surprisingly came to know that black, grey and white are not the only colors in the Universe.
First private cafes and restaurants appeared in Moscow. The number of produced goods grew up but their quality was still poor.
The words “Perestroika” and “glasnost” were probably known at this time to the whole world. Gorbachev became extremely popular. The basic idea which he is cherishing now is that the Socialism can not exist any longer like this, but the capitalism also has to be changed. Perestroika was supposed to create a new type of social system.
In 1987 the USSR was shocked by a small airplane that landed directly on a Red Square.
A young men from Germany Mathias Rust landed his small Cessna in the very heart of the capital of the USSR. The main reason of his successful flight was the fact that in 1983 Soviet air defense system shot Korean passenger liner over the Far East and 269 people were killed. Even now the situation around that liner is still not clear. So none wanted to take responsibility and to order to shoot Mathias. Mathias was lucky; he was not even sentenced to any term. He was sent back to Germany and still lives a normal life. He said he just wanted to talk with Gorbachev about perestroika.
Continued in hub Gorbachev and Perestroika. Year 1988.