Mikhail Gorbachev, Ex-Soviet Union Leader Is Dead At 91

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev led his country during a tumultuous time in history.


Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev led his country during a tumultuous time in history.

Sophia Cooper, Associate Editor-in-Cheif/ News Editor

   Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev died in a government hospital at 91 years old. 

   Many Soviets and Russians were not fond of him although his death has been met with an outpouring of comments praising his work and all of his accomplishments. For most of his presidency from 1985 to 1991, Gorbachev had been a controversial political figure. He was the final leader and many credit him with the downfall of the USSR.

   When he took over the presidency he had a lot to measure up to after the country’s preceding leaders. Unfortunately for him, the public did not seem to approve of him as much as they had approved of their previous leaders. He had different political views than most of his predecessors because unlike them he did not believe that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic or as it is commonly called, the USSR should have had a communist government. He wanted to push the Soviet Union in the direction of  Democracy.

   Upon his ascension to the presidency Gorbachev put in place a new set of laws that gave USSR citizens more freedom than they had possessed in the past. Books were no longer banned, newspapers could print what they wanted including anything that criticized the government and the biggest freedom yet was given to anybody who did not belong to the communist party–they were allowed to vote in elections. Following the changes and knowing that the USSR economy was on the verge of collapse, Gorbachev attempted to “restructure” it. He knew that he would need outside support to help the economy so he made many attempts to make peace with some countries.

   After some time, the economy in the USSR was still hurting and states had already started to declare independence. Eventually, this led to the fall of the USSR. On Aug. 18, 1991, Gorbachev ran into a problem when he was placed under house arrest and was told that he was unable to lead the country. Another prominent politician at the time, Boris Yeltsin, who was the head of the parliament, met with the leaders of two states that wanted to break from the USSR and signed an agreement allowing them to break away from the Soviet Union. Eventually, Gorbachev had no choice but to resign, which he did on Christmas Day in 1991. With his resignation came the downfall of the Soviet Union.

   Gorbachev had a difficult childhood. His parents were very poor and got married as teenagers. At his birth, he was named Viktor but his father was a devout Christian, so the infant was baptized in secret and his grandfather christened him Mikhail. Gorbachev applied to study law at the most prestigious university in the country at the time–Moscow State University (MSU) and was accepted. This was the first time that he had left his home region. He graduated from MSU in 1955. From there, his fulfilling career began.