On this day March 11, 1985

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the Soviet Union’s leader. Only 3 hours after the death of Konstantin Chernenko, Mikhail Gorbachev, at the age of 54, was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party on 11 March 1985 when Politburo supporters of Grigory Romanov had been out of Moscow.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

He became the Party’s first leader to have been born after the Revolution. As de facto ruler of the USSR, he tried to reform the stagnating Party and the state economy by introducing glasnost (“openness”), perestroika (“restructuring”), demokratizatsiya (“democratization”), and uskoreniye (“acceleration” of economic development), which were launched at the 27th Congress of the CPSU in February 1986.

Domestically, Gorbachev implemented economic reforms that he hoped would improve living standards and worker productivity as part of his perestroika programme. However, many of his reforms were considered radical at the time by orthodox apparatchiks in the Soviet government.

In 1985, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet economy was stalled and that reorganization was needed. Initially, his reforms were called uskoreniye (acceleration) but later the terms glasnost (liberalisation, opening up) and perestroika (restructuring) became more popular.


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