chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

During the late 1980s, the world became familiar with two Russian terms which were adopted as the slogan and the watchword for the tremendous sea-change which affected and altered almost every facet of Soviet life. These were the Russian words glasnost and perestroika, the first meaning ‘openness’, ‘frankness’ or ‘publicity’, and the second meaning literally ‘restructuring’. They began to be used with increasing frequency in connection with the programme of economic, political and cultural reform inaugurated in the former Soviet Union after Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev (1931-) became the General Secretary of the country’s Communist Party in 1985 and its President in 1988. Because of the tremendous international power and importance of the Soviet Union, those changes had wide repercussions not only for the peoples of the USSR, but for the rest of the world as well. This is not the right place to discuss them, but what is important to realize is that what was actually being ‘restructured’, but ultimately dismantled, was essentially the political, social, economic and ideological system that was created by the man who ruled over the Soviet Union for twenty-five years (1928-53) as its unchallenged dictator – Joseph Stalin.