|Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev|
|President of the Soviet Union|
15 March 1990 – 25 December 1991
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, (Russian: Михаи́л Серге́евич Горбачёв; March 2, 1931-), is a Russian and former Soviet politician. He was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, having been General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991.
Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief "interregna" of Andropov and Chernenko, Gorbachev was elected general secretary by the Politburo in 1985. Before he reached the post, he had occasionally been mentioned in Western newspapers as a likely next leader and a man of the younger generation at the top level.
Gorbachev's policies of glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring") and his reorientation of Soviet strategic aims contributed to the end of the Cold War. Under this program, the role of the Communist Party in governing the state was removed from the constitution. This inadvertently led to crisis-level political instability, with a surge of regional-nationalist and anti-communist activism which culminated in the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev later expressed regret for his failure to save the USSR, though he has insisted his policies were not failures, but rather vitally necessary reforms sabotaged and exploited by opportunists.