Glasnost, a Russian word meaning “openness,” refers to a series of policy reforms implemented by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s. With these reforms, Gorbachev relaxed government surveillance and censorship of the news media, arts and literature, and public political debate. Although the initial goal of glasnost was simply to promote transparency in government and greater openness in political discourse, the resulting outpouring of domestic dissent was a contributing factor in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Rise of Gorbachev

Gorbachev was born in 1931 to farmers living in the Caucasus region of Russia. While studying law at Moscow State University, he became a member of the Communist Party; over the next decades, he rose rapidly through the party ranks, first becoming a local ...

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