Glasnost and the intelligentsia
The first significant changes after Gorbachev took power were not in economics but in the realm of culture and individuals' right to freedom of thought. Gorbachev initiated the policy known as glasnost, which entailed lifting the stifling controls on public debate and individual expression of opinion, at the beginning of 1986. The decision to tackle the cultural and political repression of the Soviet system as the first step in his reform agenda may have come from a belief that economic reform could not succeed, or even get an effective start, if the population remained passive and fearful. Perhaps it was hoped that glasnost would arouse the population and stir them into action in support of renovating the Soviet system.