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Significant Men: Gorbachev.

Updated on April 24, 2014
Gorbachev with Reagan. 1987.
Gorbachev with Reagan. 1987. | Source

He Changed Our World.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev born in 1931. He changed and maybe saved the world in which we live today. Gorbachev dismantled the Soviet Union and brought about an end to Soviet Russia. He organised moves towards reforms in Eastern Europe, the ending of the Cold War and of course the demolition of the Berlin Wall. He brought East and West closer together and the world is a better place for his efforts.

A boy to a man.

Gorbachev was born into a peasant family in Southern Russia. He was a young boy of ten years old when World War II started, the Germans invaded and the events he saw left a lasting impression on him. As a young man he studied law in Moscow. It was here that he met and married his wife Raisa. He joined the Communist Party and spent the next twenty five years working hard and rising through the ranks. In 1979 Gorbachev joined the Politburo, the ruling body of the USSR. ( Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ). In March 1985 he became the general secretary and leader of the Soviet Unioin.

Changes begin.

He set about making changes and two Russian words became known worldwide; glasnost (openness) and perestroika ( re-structuring ). He encouraged trade and economic ties with western countries and despite political opposition reform at home. During this time Gorbachev was meeting with and negotiating nuclear arms reduction treaties with the US President Reagan. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 concentrated minds with the Russian opposition. They realised the need for the modernisation of and the danger from, their ageing nuclear facilities and weapons. Gorbachev of course had forseen these events and his Leadership was recognised.

Eastern Europe.

Other changes were to follow. In 1988 Gorbachev pulled the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. He relinquished full Soviet control over East European affairs. Countries of the Eastern Bloc were allowed to carry out their own policies and decisions. Generally peaceful revolution encouraged democratic reform throughout Eastern Europe. At home there was still a modicum of opposition to these reforms, the West was more than pleased with Gorbachevs actions, as slowly the Cold War began to come to an end. Appreciation of his efforts came in 1990 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Freedom and change.

National identity began to rise amongs the smaller countries of the East; Azerbaijan, Ukraine and the Baltic States decided that they wished to leave the Soviet Union and stand alone. Nationalism was also on the rise in the Soviet Union itself. There was a nationalist coup which failed, but internal strife brought about the downfall of the Soviet Union anyway. The constituents of the Union declared their independence. Gorbachev tried to bring about a democratic union, but to no avail. On Christmas Day, 1991 he stood down. The next day Boris Yeltsin became the President of newly formed Russian Federation,thus ending 74 years of Communist rule.

A respected world statesman.

So what has happened since. The reforms Gorbachev implemented have not gone the way he would have hoped, but things are far better than they were. It has to be said that he was one of the greatest leaders of his time. Because of his actions, the world is without doubt a safer and more friendly place. Today Gorbachev strides the world stage as a statesman. His views are sought by the Leaders of today and the calls upon his time are many. His actions should not be forgotten.

Significant Men:

Significant Men: Arthur Ransome. Swallows Amazons and a Secret Life.

Significant Men: Lech Walesa.

© 2012 Graham Lee

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    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Greensleeves. Thank you for your well presented comments. I am sure Gorbachev realises the esteem in which he is held here in the West. I totally agree with your comments, he did make a difference to the world in which we live. Thanks again.

      Graham.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      3 years ago from Essex, UK

      Some leaders (often clever dictators who control the media and suppress opposition) are more respected in their own country than in the rest of the world.

      Other leaders (often radical but civilised with a farsighted world view) are respected throughout the world, but less so in their own country, where short-term interests may hold sway. Gorbachev was one of these leaders, and it was his misfortune that his own people could not appreciate the significant changes he was introducing, more than they did.

      Once given a taste of free thought and free expression, too many in Russia and in the former territories of the Soviet Union, took advantage and pressed for further, even more rapid change. Gorbachev's slow, careful approach to radical change did not find favour and he was toppled. The eventual result is that they now have Putin and - although not returning to the ultra-repressive days of communism - Russia has certainly regressed.

      If only the people had appreciated the humanity and intelligent approach of Gorbachev more, then today all the beneficial legacies of his rule (such as liberation of the former Eastern bloc nations like East Germany, Poland and Hungary) would still exist, but one suspects that truer democracy would also exist within Russia and its former USSR neighbours. Today there would probably be less instability in countries such as the Ukraine, and in Russia itself there would be no fear in speaking out against the Government. In these circumstances, the West would feel much more inclined to support and aid Russia as a good friend in the world.

      Fortunately I am sure Mikhail Gorbachev is aware of how much he is respected elsewhere in the world, and I am sure that Russian history will also one day come to regard him as their greatest leader. I hope that happens in his lifetime.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi rahul0324.

      Thank you for your visit and comment. Yes, as time passes great men and women are forgotten. He really did change the world.

      Graham.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      6 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Good to know more about such an important figure in world history...

      Excellent write

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Yes. Gorbachev was a very powerful man who changed the world, I do not exagerate here. He was a very brave man and still is of course.

      Graham.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 

      6 years ago from India

      I really knew little about this world leader besides the fact that he broke up the USSR with his policies. Very interesting reading his background.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi TT. That's a brilliant illustration of what 'Gorby' did. A very brave man indeed. Yes the world is a better place due to his actions. Thank you for your welcome comments.

      Graham.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      We felt the impacts of the changes that Gorbachev achieved in Alaska. As the relationship between the US and Russia improved, the number of Russian tourists slowly began to increase. I remember being in Costco in Anchorage one day and having a Russian approach me to explain the pricing system on the items on the shelf. At first I was STUNNED that there was a Russian standing in front of me after all the times my dad would tell us about their bombers playing cat and mouse with our fighters and radar. It was a very eye opening experience, but possible thanks to the improvements initiated by their dedicated leader.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi iamaudraleigh. Thank you for dropping by. Yes, time passes and men of courage are forgotten. He did indeed make a difference.

      Graham.

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 

      6 years ago

      I agree w/ Jaye! He was an important figure while I was growing up! He does deserve a place in h. books! Great hub!

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello JayeWisdom. Thank you for your first visit and welcome comments. Yes all seems to be forgotten now. As you know the cold war was a terrible time for all.

      Graham.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I remember so well when "glasnost" first came about, due to Gorbachev, then of perestroika-- the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev certainly deserves a place of distinction in history books.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Good Morning Michael. Thank you for your visit and interest. As you say momentous times, so easily forgotten.

      Thank you for the votes I appreciate them.

      Graham.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have a copy of perestroika. I read when he published it, all those years ago.

      It was a momentous time and seemed to pass without much fuss. Which is shocking, considering we all lived with the fear of instant annihilation.

      Great read on a very important man, and his influence on our current world order.

      How soon we forgot the cold way?

      All the votes and sharing this.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you us.

      Graham.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 

      6 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      He is indeed a great man. Thank you for this hub, actually I never heard of him before and Im glad to know more and learn more.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Good morning ae. Thank you for your visit and comment. I do so agree, he seems to me to be an unsung hero. I think it is because he was as far as the west was concerned, an Eastern leader and some of the Eastern Bloc did not want his reforms to take place anyway.

      Graham.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I believe you are right. In my eyes he was a great man. Gorbachev left his ' mark ' and i'm grateful. Thank you for a very enlightening hub..

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