Mikhail Gorbachev (Михаил Сергеевич Горбачёв) was born on March 2, 1931, in Privolnoye, Stavropol region, to collective farm workers.
Education: Law, Moscow State University, 1955. Agronomy-Economics, Stavropol Agriculture Institute, 1967.
1952: Joined the Communist Party after having been a member of Komsomol youth organization
1955-58: Rises through the Komsomol hierarchy to become the organization's top official in Stavropol
1961: Delegate from Stavropol to the 22nd Communist Party Congress in Moscow, at which Nikita Khrushchev announced a plan to surpass the United States in per capita production within 20 years
1970: Appointed First Secretary for Stavropol territory, governing an area of 2.4 million people
1970-1990: Deputy to the Supreme Soviet
1971: Appointed to the Communist Party Central Committee
1974: Deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Standing Commission on Youth Affairs
1978-1985: Secretary of Agriculture in the Central Committee
1980: Becomes youngest full member of the Politburo
1984-1985: Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee
1985-Aug. 24, 1991: General Secretary of Communist Party by the Central Committee. His two signature policies, perestroika and glasnost, covered a broad range of reforms that included economic liberalization and relaxed restrictions on civil rights.
1989: Elected by the new parliament as executive president of Soviet Union. Ends the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan.
March 1990: Elected the first president of the Soviet Union with 59 percent of deputies' votes. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
August 1991: Survived a coup attempt by Communist Party hard-liners that nonetheless severely weakened his grip on power
Dec. 25, 1991: Resigns as president of the Soviet Union. The country was formally dissolved the following day.
1992-present: President of the Gorbachev Foundation, which researches the Perestroika era and current issues of Russian history and politics, and the International Green Cross, an ecological organization.
June-July 1996: Runs for president, placing seventh with a meager 0.5 percent of the vote
2001-2004: Head of the Social Democratic Party. SDPR failed to either collect the required 200,000 signatures for the December 2003 elections or pay the 37.5 million ruble fee to get on the party list ballot.
2006: Bought a 49 percent stake in Russia's leading opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, with businessman Alexander Lebedev
2008: Teamed up with Lebedev again to found the Independent Democratic Party of Russia
2011: Celebrated his 80th birthday with a star-studded fundraiser at the Royal Albert Hall in London