Legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev – UPSC GS1

Who was he?
Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of United USSR. He was the young and dynamic soviet leader who wanted to reform communist regime on the lines of democratic principles  by giving some freedom to citizens.
What were the measures taken by him?
  • He recognised the policy of Glasnost or freedom of speech which was severely curtailed during earlier regime.
  • He began a program of economic reform called Perestroika or Restructuring which was necessary as Soviet economy was suffering from both hidden inflation and supply shortages
  • Cultural freedoms were granted to the press and the artistic community during Gorbachev’s time
  • He launched radical reforms meant to reduce party control of the government apparatus.
  • Thousands of political prisoners and their dissidents were released during his rule
  • He is accredited with the success of nuclear disarmament agreement with USA which won him Nobel Peace Prize.
Critical evaluation:
  • His policy of Glanost resulted into the open criticism of the government contributing to disintegration
  • Economic reforms did not have immediate results which led to increase in frustration among masses.
  • By his reforms, he had weakened the centralised authority and ability to control the region.
Can collapse of USSR be fully attributed to him/his policies?
The collapse of USSR cannot be wholly attributed to Gorbachev as it was inevitable sooner or later because of economic stagnation and peoples dissatisfaction. In the broader view, Gorbachev provided the platform for Russia to reform its economy and political system.