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Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev turns 90

Michael McLaren

Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick, The University of Sydney historian of modern Russia, joins Michael to discuss the life and legacy of Russian & former Soviet politician Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, who was born 90 years ago today on 2 March 1931.

Gorbachev was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union & the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991.

He was also the country’s head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and president of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991.

Although committed to preserving the Soviet state and to its socialist ideals, Gorbachev believed significant reform was necessary, particularly after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Widely considered one of the most significant figures of the second half of the 20th century, Gorbachev remains the subject of controversy.

The recipient of a wide range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, he was widely praised for his pivotal role in ending the Cold War, curtailing human rights abuses in the Soviet Union, and tolerating both the fall of Marxist–Leninist administrations in eastern and central Europe and the reunification of Germany.

Conversely, he is often derided in Russia for not stopping the Soviet collapse, an event which brought a decline in Russia’s global influence and precipitated an economic crisis.

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Michael McLaren
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