March 2, 1931 in the village of Privolnoye, Krasnogvardeysky district, Stavropol Krai, in a peasant family was born Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, the Soviet and Russian political and social activist, general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee (1985-91), first president of the USSR (1990-91), Nobel Prize for Peace winner (1990).
In 1950, Gorbachev graduated from high school with a silver medal and entered the Law Faculty of Moscow University. After graduating in 1955 he was appointed secretary of the Stavropol City Komsomol Committee, and from 1956 had been its first secretary. In 1958-1962 Gorbachev had worked in senior positions in the regional committee of Komsomol. In 1967 he graduated by correspondence from the Faculty of Economics of the Stavropol Agricultural Institute as an agronomist-economist.
In 1962, Gorbachev joined the regional party committee. In 1966 he became first secretary of the Stavropol City Committee of the Communist Party; two years later - the second secretary, and then - first secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee of the CPSU. In mid-1970s Gorbachev was actively involved in agriculture: the national press had published his articles in support of the rationalization of peasant labor. Gorbachev had gradually become one of the ideologists of the Party's policy in the field of agriculture.
In 1971 he became a member of the CPSU Central Committee, and three years later was elected to the Supreme Soviet, was chairman of several commissions of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR: the Committee for Youth (1974-1979), Committee of Legislative proposals (1979-1984), Committee of Foreign Affairs (1984-1985). During these years he managed to rally young secretaries of the Central Committee and leaders of local party organizations (E. K. Ligachev, N. I. Ryzhkov, E. A. Shevardnadze), as well as get the support of some members and alternate members of the Politburo, first of all A. A. Gromyko, who possessed great influence.
In 1985, at the March Plenum of the CPSU Gorbachev was formally elected Secretary General of the Central Committee. During the year, Gorbachev replaced up to two thirds of the Politburo members: 60% of secretaries of regional committees and 40% of members of the CPSU Central Committee. In February - March 1986, at the XXVII Congress of the CPSU, Gorbachev made a speech, advocating the need for economic revitalization of the country, increase of the autonomy of enterprises, reduce of government procurement, the democratic reforms of society, increase of political participation of the people. The policy of XXVII Congress of the CPSU was called "perestroika", the main slogan of which were "New Thinking", "Glasnost" and "Publicity".
March 15, 1990 III Congress of People's Deputies elected Mikhail Gorbachev the President of the USSR.
The foreign policy of the "new thinking", associated with the name of Gorbachev, had brought dramatic changes to the international situation (the end of the Cold War, Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the weakening of the nuclear threat, Velvet Revolutions in Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany). In 1990, for his contribution to the easing of international tensions, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.
In August 1991, Gorbachev announced his resignation from the post of the General Secretary of the CPSU. December 25, 1991, after signing of Belavezha Accords on the elimination of USSR, he resigned as head of state.
Following the resignation, Mikhail Gorbachev continued public activities. In 1992 he founded the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (Gorbachev Foundation). In 1993, Gorbachev led an international environmental organization Green Cross. In 1996 he took part in the presidential elections in Russia (gained about 0.51%). October 20, 2007 Mikhail Gorbachev became the chairman of the All-Russian public movement "Union of Social Democrats."
Lit.: Горбачёв-фонд: сайт. 2001-2004. URL: http://www.gorby.ru/; Горбачёв М. С. Жизнь и реформы. М., 1995; Медведев В. А. В команде Горбачёва: Взгляд изнутри. М., 1994; Современная политическая история России (1985-1997 годы). Т. 2: Лица России. М., 1998; Черняев А. С. Шесть лет с Горбачёвым: По дневникам и записям. М., 1993; Шахназаров Г. Х. Цена свободы: Реформация Горбачёва глазами его помощника. М., 1994; 27-й съезд КПСС: Материалы. М., 1986; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://publ.lib.ru/ARCHIVES/K/KPSS/_KPSS.html#027.
Based on the Presidential Library’s materials: