CHANGING THE SOVIET UNION: MIKHAIL GORBACHEV Stalin’s iron fist did a lot to change the Soviet Union from an agricultural (farming) nation to an industrial one. After Stalin’s death in 1953 (of natural causes), the Soviet government tried to keep his policies of Communist rule. This led to Soviet citizens having major food shortages, poor quality goods, and crowded living conditions. By the 1980’s the people of the USSR wanted change.
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union and launched three major changes in the USSR. First was perestroika, meaning restructuring, Gorbachev hoped to improve the Soviet economy and the citizen’s standard of living. To do this he wanted to reduce government control over production and business. He wanted to give businesses the ability to answer questions such as: What kind of materials do we need? Where should we buy them? What kind of goods should we sell? He also wanted to make businesses responsible for their own expenses. He also eagerly sought foreign investment and decreased military spending.
Gorbachev’s second change was called Glasnost, or openness. With Glasnost people were allowed to express their feelings about the government for the first time. The media was allowed its own control and banned books were made available. Glasnost also opened the USSR to Western culture such as music, fashion, and beliefs.
Gorbachev’s final changes were called democratization. This allowed the people of the USSR to hold elections for Soviet leaders for the first time. They could even elect a non-communist leader!
Gorbachev’s changes gave the people of the Soviet Union more power, but led to a weakening of the government. In 1991, Boris Yeltsin was elected as the first president of Russia causing Gorbachev to step down. As Gorbachev’s ideas spread throughout the country, the countries controlled by the Soviet Union wanted their own independence. This would eventually lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
CHANGING THE SOVIET UNION: MIKHAIL GORBACHEV USE THIS READING GUIDE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CHANGES BROUGHT BY GORBACHEV.
What did Soviet leaders want for the USSR after Stalin’s death? What was the result of their decision?
Who became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985?
Scan the reading to find the names of Gorbachev’s 3 changes. Write them below.