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. Last Updated: 12/24/2014

Mikhail Gorbachev

Government

Mikhail Gorbachev

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

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More Russians blame the collapse of the Soviet Union on a "conspiracy" of hostile Western forces than seven years ago, in a sign the wave of anti-Western state media coverage unleashed during the Ukraine crisis is influencing Russians' view of the past.

Gorbachev on Russia and Ukraine: 'We Are One People' (Exclusive)

Many people who send letters to the first and last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, still write on the envelope: "To the Secretary General of the Communist Party, Kremlin."

'Twin Peaks' Fan Gorbachev Asked Bush Who Killed Laura Palmer

A new book devoted to the U.S. television series "Twin Peaks" claims that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was such a fan of the cult show that he enlisted the help of then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush to find out the answer to the show's main riddle: Who killed Laura Palmer?

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