Mikhail Gorbachev's Reforms

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In April 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev began to introduce new reforms that would lead to the end of the Cold War and bring down the "Iron Curtain" only five years later. The reforms, called Perestroika and Glasnost, gave the Soviet-controlled countries more free will, which led to chain events resulting in countries pulling away from communism one by one. On December 25 1991, the world watched on in amazement as the Soviet Union officially disintegrated into 15 separate countries. Mikhail Gorbachev 's reforms, namely Perestroika and Glasnost, ultimately eased tensions between the USSR and the USA. These reforms gave the USSR a more capitalist society, enabling Boris Yeltsin to rise to power as Russian president and push for a faster conversion from …show more content…
When Gorbachev came to power, he inherited quite the amount of economic and social problems from his previous successors. And so, in an effort to revitalise the Soviet Union and repair these problems, Gorbachev had to de-construct the whole Soviet economy and social structure and carefully fit all the pieces back together. "This society is ripe for change," Gorbachev wrote in his book Perestroika: New Thinking for our Country and the World, "Any delay in perestroika could have led to an exacerbated internal situation in the near future, which, to put it bluntly, would have been fraught with serious social, economic, and political crisis." He continues, stating that in order to gain socialism, democracy must be introduced. To do this, Gorbachev carefully evaluated the situation and chose reforms that enforced socialism rather than the forced communist totalitarianism that the Soviet Union had previously implemented. The 2001 published book, Years of Russia and the USSR 1851-1991, states that to achieve Glasnost, Gorbachev allowed "frank discussion and criticism, encouraging freedom of expression and allowing the press, radio and television to report and comment without restriction". …show more content…
This cast an "Iron Curtain" down the middle of Europe. Because of the continuous policy of rapprochement the Soviets were following, and the democratisation of Europe 's communism, the satellite states were able to separate themselves from the Warsaw Pact, which was an alliance made in retaliation against the USA 's NATO. Gorbachev allowed the states ' governments to make their own decisions without much influence from the Soviets. This earned him great respect from the satellite states, as described by a British reporter situated in Czechoslovakia, “When Gorbachev and the beautiful Raisa smile and wave, the Czech people go crazy… When we were reformers, the Soviets invaded. Now the Soviets are reformers, they have discovered a deep respect for Czechoslovakia’s right to govern itself”. The most well-known result of these countries being able to make their own decisions is the fall of the Berlin Wall, which ultimately led to the reunification of East and West Germany. Without the approval of the Soviet Union, a French journalist has written that this event would have probably been a "repetition of the coup de Prague of 1968, as the forces of the Warsaw Pact entered the Czechoslovakian capital to put an end to the democratic reforms of Dubček following the Prague Spring”. Corroborating with the journalist’s

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