Perestroika in the Soviet Union

§ Premises of perestroika

§ The General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev

§ 1987

§ "Glasnost" as a Soviet kind of publicity

§ Economic changes

§ The "New Thinking" in Soviet foreign policy

 

It is generally accepted that understanding of the need for changes in the USSR began to during Yuri Andropov's reign (1983-1984)

Andropov's short reign was remembered by a sharp trend towards the strengthening of labor discipline, which manifested itself in the famouschecks in baths and cinemas.

At the same time with the old policy of strengthening discipline with administrative resources, the soviet government retrived an idea that it is possible to rationalize the state management, implementing limited reforms .

It is obvious that in 1984 cardinal changes could not be made.

But at the same time, Andropov launched a kind of economic experiments to find out the link between the quality of labor and wages. It is important to understand that even such a limited experiment was a challenge to the socialist economy.

Attempts to stimulate workers financially did not mean a transition to a market economy. All the "experiments" were supposed to be put exclusively in a planned economy.

The short-term rule of Andropov was replaced by the same short-lived rule of Konstantin Chernenko,.

The impersonal rule of Chernenko clearly demonstrated the crisis of the Brezhnev system and prepared the society, including the authorities, to searching for new ways.

The appointment of Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev to the post of General Secretary took place on March 11, 1985.Portrait of Gorbachev

     An important role in the adoption of this decision was played by the opinion of Andrei Gromyko, an authoritative party figure with years of experience, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR. In the Western press was nicknamedas "Mr. No" or "Grim Grom".

As for Mikhail Gorbachev, at that time he was relatively young (54 years old) and was able to perform well.  

         In April 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev announced the need for the development in economic, primarily on accelerating scientific and technological progress which could improve the economic situation.

        At this stage - in April 1985 the idea was to improve economic situation by more effective use of already available resources. The idea of a cardinal reorganization of the system has not appeared yet.

         Here is a quote from Gorbachev's speech of that time «Another reserve, that must be taken in account, is the fight against waste and loss. Heads of many ministries and enterprises are seeking to get more capital, machines and machinery, raw materials and fuel from the State. But at the same time, they use resources not rationally. The available equipment sometimes does not work or is not used in full force»1.

The period of 1985-86 is also characterized by the resignation of the Brezhnev elite. In particular, from high posts were displaced: Vitaly Grishin, Grigory Romanov, Nikolay Tikhonov and others.

At the same time, the main political figures of the perestroika are coming to the political arena: Nikolai Ryzhkov, Yegor Ligachev, Boris Yeltsin and others. The process of forming a new political elite was launched.

By 1987, the Soviet Union experienced the impact of three strongest blows: financial losses from the anti-alcohol campaign, the Chernobyl disaster and a sharp drop in oil prices.

However, 1987 was the starting year of perestroika in the USSR. In January 1987, it was decided to launch a radical restructuring in economic management and public policy.

Summarizing these reforms, one can say that perestroika in the USSR was carried out in three main directions:

 

"Glasnost" (publicity) - reducing the influence of ideology

 

Economic freedoms – An appearance of cooperatives and joint ventures with foreigners

"New Thinking" in international affairs - a course to improve relations with Western countries.

Each of these areas should be told in more detail.

Sometimes the policy of "Glasnost" is called the only completed reform of perestroika. In 1990-1991, the possibilities of criticizing the government have reached unprecedented proportions.

Perestroika was remembered as the time when many of the previously banned were published. "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn was officially published in the Soviet Union for the first time.

The cinema of this time speaks about themes about which it was impossible to speak a few years ago.Фото Горбачёва в БДТ

The influence of perestroika is also noticeable on Soviet television

Instead of boring official programs, now there are programs that invite the viewer to a discussion

It is necessary to mention the famous program "Vzglyad" ("The view"), in which four young journalists in non-formal clothes communicated with each other using domestic language.

In his autobiographical book "Life and Reforms", Mikhail Gorbachev notes the environmental aspect of "Glasnost". That aspect meant the ability of residents to respond to plans for the construction of environmentally hazardous plants.

Here is an example from Gorbachev's book "I remember what kind of fight the inhabitants of Volgograd gave to the expansion plans of the enterprise, which worked for the chemicalization of agriculture, although the projects guaranteed ecological purity."2

photo of the restaurantIn 1986, the individual activities law allowed the citizens of the USSR to earn money in their spare time. For example, it became possible to practice tutoring legally.

 

An important step was taken on May 26, 1988, the famous "Law on Cooperation in the USSR" was adopted, legalized the business as such. By the way,May 26 is the day of a businessman in modern Russia. The era of cooperative entrepreneurship began in the USSR.

This era was remembered for the new restaurants in which it was expensive to eat, but comfortable to be.

 

The main idea of this course was the idea of peaceful coexistence of the USSR and Western countries. In addition, the long-term arms race was too expensive for USSR. There were other important problems, which have to be solved. One of them is the deficit problem.

Picture from the soviet televisionThere was a paradoxical situation when in the country with modern weapon systems and space technologies there was no normal footwear, and the chicken in shops was a rarity

Ideas about a new foreign policy Mikhail Sergeyevich described in the book "Perestroika and a new way of thinking for our country and for the whole world", which appeared in 1987.

In December 1987, in Washington, Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed an agreement on the elimination of medium and short-range missiles. By the way, medium-range missiles are missiles capable of hitting targets at a distance of 1000 km. up to 5500 km. The short range is accordingly from 500 km. up to 1000 km.

The signing of these agreements was preceded by the famous meeting of Gorbachev and Reagan in Reykjavik in October 1986, during which the ways of nuclear disarmament were outlined.

In his autobiographical book, "Life and Reforms", Mikhail Gorbachev described the necessity of establishing a dialogue with the US President: «I and my assistants in international affairs agreed that we should start from the United States. Gorbachev and ReaganThis is a superpower and a recognized leader of the Western world. Without the United States, any attempts to achieve a turn in the relations between East and West will not give anything, they can even be perceived as intrigues. The task was not easy: to find a common language not with the Social Democrat Palme or the socialist Mitterrand, but with Ronald Reagan, who called the Soviet Union "an evil empire"».3

In February 1989, Soviet troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan. The return of Soviet soldiers was perceived as a joyful event, because during the 10 years of the war, coffins regularly coming to the Soviet Union, made this war extremely unpopular.

Photo of the Soviet troops

At the turn of the 80's and 90's, changes are taking place in Eastern Europe. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall have fallen, in October 1990, Germany was reunited. The GDR became the part of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In 1989, Poland began to build a market economy.

In December 1989, the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu collapses in Romania. The "genius of the Carpathians" himself was shot with his wife, on the verdict of a speedy trial.

In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The statement of the Nobel Committee spoke of the leading role of the President of the USSR in the peace process, thanks to which the confrontation between East and West was replaced by a dialogue.

Thus, perestroika in the USSR influenced not only the issues of soviet domestic policy, but also had an influence on the international situation on a global scale.

 

 

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1 M. Gorbachev. Selected speeches and articles Volume 2. М.: Political literature publishing, 1987, P. 156

 

2 M. Gorbachev. Life and Reforms, 1995, P. 320

 

3 M. Gorbachev. Life and Reforms, 1995, P. 11

 

 

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