He brought glasnost "openness" and perestroika "restructuring" to the Soviet Union, policies that led to the end of Communist rule there.
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) when he attended the law school of Moscow State University from 1952 to 1955. He rose quickly through the party ranks, and in 1985, he became the general secretary of the CPSU. Five years later, he became president of the USSR.
During his tenure, Gorbachev helped dismantle the party apparatus, encouraged free expression, and relaxed cultural restrictions behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1990, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his international achievements, including withdrawal of the Red Army from Afghanistan, passing two disarmament treaties with then-American President Ronald Reagan, and promoting political change in Eastern Europe.
Gorbachev was forced to resign in 1991, after a failed coup created an opportunity for his opponent, Boris Yeltsin, to move in as president of Russia, and the Soviet Union collapsed.
Since then, Gorbachev has founded the Green Cross Foundation, an environmental organization. He also runs the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (better known as the Gorbachev Foundation). And he continues to lecture worldwide, to write, and to speak out for democratic globalization - one that benefits poor nations and wealthy nations alike.
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