Illustration Ragni Svensson


Professor Archie Brown argues that Gorbachev was not selected as General Secretary because he was a reformer. He did at the time he became party leader believe both that the system was reformable and that it must be reformed. But he did not, however, reveal the full extent of his existing reformism on the eve of perestroika.

Published on on August 25, 2010

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Just after Mikhail Gorbachev was chosen as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party in March 1985 the question was asked in Moscow: “How much support has Gorbachev got in the Kremlin?” The answer was: “None. He can walk entirely unaided.”

After three Soviet leaders in succession who had found it difficult to move without support, the joke was understandable. But less than seven years later the question was far from funny. Gorbachev’s support within the Kremlin itself was shaky (his own chief-of-staff, Valeriy Boldin, joined the coup against him in August 1991) and there was bitter opposition to his policies from conservative forces within the party apparatus, the ministerial bureaucracy, the military, and the KGB. And that was just the opposition on one side. On the other side were nationalist movements in the Baltic States, the Caucasus and Western Ukraine as well as radical “democrats”, although some of the self-styled democrats were much less tolerant and more absolutist in style than was Gorbachev. Alexander Lukin, who published a scholarly book on the belief systems of democratic activists during perestroika, found that many of them had very little interest in such institutional arrangements as checks and balances or separation of powers. They believed, rather, in replacing the absolute power of the Communists by the absolute power of the “democrats”.[i]

In spite of the failures and problems of the unreformed Soviet system, there was nothing inevitable about radical change being inaugurated in the second half of the 1980s. It is too easy to find a variety of reasons why such change was “bound” to happen, bringing a retrospective determinism to a complex reality in which there was chance and choice. If, heaven forbid, Gorbachev (rather than Dmitriy Ustinov) had died in December 1984, the history of the last quarter of a century would surely have been very different. We know the views of all the voting members of the Politburo in March 1985 – from transcripts of Politburo meetings now available, from interviews they subsequently gave, and from the memoirs which some of them wrote. There was only one reformer by disposition within their ranks, and that was Gorbachev.

It is quite evident, therefore, that Gorbachev was not selected as General Secretary because he was a reformer. In the first place, his views in 1985 were not as radical as they became in 1988, but he did at the time he became party leader believe both that the system was reformable and that it must be reformed. He did not, however, reveal the full extent of his existing reformism on the eve of perestroika. One of the Politburo members at that time, Heidar Aliev, said in a 1990 interview that none of them knew that Gorbachev would be a reformer. If they had read more carefully a speech Gorbachev gave in December 1984 to a conference on ideology, they should have had some idea.[ii] Aliev, though, was correct when he added that not only was Gorbachev the youngest among them all (which had at last become an advantage), but also “he was the second person in the party; power, so to speak, was already in his hands”.[iii]

Yuriy Andropov had so extended Gorbachev’s powers and responsibilities that he was the obvious successor to Chernenko as second secretary of the party when Andropov himself died and was succeeded as party leader by Chernenko. Thus, Andropov played an important part in Gorbachev’s advance. He appreciated his energy and abilities, although he, too, had no inkling of how far Gorbachev would depart from the norms, ideology and institutions of the Soviet system. But his earlier backing for Gorbachev had helped to ensure that when Chernenko died only thirteen months after becoming party leader, Gorbachev, as second secretary, was indeed in a position to seize the initiative. He convened and chaired a meeting of the Politburo on the same evening that Chernenko expired and was, in effect, pre-selected as general secretary there and then, being chosen to chair his predecessor’s funeral commission. The following afternoon he was formally, and unanimously, nominated as General Secretary by the Politburo and equally unanimously elected by the Central Committee.

So it is a myth that Gorbachev was chosen because he was a reformer. It is also a myth that the leadership had no option but to adopt the policies they did because of the condition of the Soviet economy. And it is certainly a myth that Ronald Reagan’s military build-up, including his Strategic Defence Initiative, left the Soviet Union no alternative but to sue for peace in the Cold War. The economy was stagnating,[iv] but there was no economic crisis in 1985, still less a political crisis. The Communist system had a sophisticated array of rewards for conformist behaviour and a hierarchy of sanctions and punishments for political deviance. The overt dissident movement was actually weaker in 1985 than it had been ten or twenty years earlier. An unreconstructed command economy can survive for decades longer than it deserves to when it is accompanied by an equally unreconstructed Communist political system. Communist systems performing far worse than did the Soviet economy in 1985 can continue to exist by using all the instruments of political, social and siloviki control at the disposal of the ruling party. North Korea is today a tragic case in point. Cuba presents a more mixed picture, but it is certainly not an economic success story. (China, of course, has taken a quite different route, retaining a command polity while having long abandoned a command economy. Of the five Communist, or quasi-Communist, states still in existence, the two remaining ones, Vietnam and Laos, appear to be following the economically pragmatic Chinese example.)

Then there is the argument that the correlation of military forces had turned against the Soviet Union, making a transformation of policy unavoidable. The fact is that the United States was much stronger vis-à-vis the Soviet Union in the 1950s and the 1960s than it was in 1985. But the Soviet response then was to continue and even accelerate the build-up of its military strength and to suppress any movement for change in East-Central Europe, as the invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 made only too clear. By the early 1970s the Soviet Union acquired an approximate military parity with the USA. In the 1980s each side had the weaponry capable of utterly annihilating the other – and, indeed, of destroying life on earth. Even on Reagan’s own optimistic assessment, “SDI might take decades to develop”.[v]

The Reagan Administration sent out very mixed signals, and these included the statements at different times of President Reagan himself. When he combined his most belligerent rhetoric with increased military expenditure, this consolidated a hard line within the Soviet leadership, as we can see from the transcripts of Politburo meetings in 1983 and 1984.[vi] As the long-serving Soviet Ambassador to Washington (and later head of the International Department of the Central Committee), Anatoly Dobrynin, observed: “The impact of the American hard line on the internal debates of the Politburo and the attitudes of the Soviet leadership almost always turned out to be just the opposite of the one intended in Washington.”[vii] Reagan did play a significant role in ending the Cold War, but, as Jack Matlock and others have pointed out, it was not the Reagan of popular mythology who did so. The Reagan who made this contribution was one who was ready for dialogue if he could find a Soviet leader to negotiate with – a Reagan who shared with Gorbachev an aspiration to banish nuclear weapons from the face of the earth – rather than the Reagan of Western triumphalist accounts.[viii]

At a February 2010 conference at Columbia University, New York, in which I participated, Adam Michnik, who for many years was a leading figure in the opposition to Communist rule in Poland, was asked why Communism ended. He replied: “Because it was false.” Ideas were, indeed, important in the demise of Communism, just as they were in its rise. The belief that capitalism would inevitably be succeeded by socialism which, in due course, would usher in the final stage of human development – a classless, stateless society – turned out to be a utopian illusion, no matter how much the Communist founding fathers, Marx, Engels and Lenin, criticized utopian socialists. The notion that the Communist Party had a right to rule because it was able to guide less advanced citizens to the goal of communism was untenable for many reasons, but first and foremost because this supposedly final stage of social development was a wholly imaginary construct.

The problem with Michnik’s answer, however, is that Communist ideology was no less ‘false” in earlier decades of Communist rule than it was in the 1980s. So it does not really help us to understand why Communist systems ended – in Europe, at any rate – when they did. The error of the doctrine lay not only in its construction of a fanciful future but also in its refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of political opposition, the refusal to countenance independent social organizations, the rejection of a rule of law, and the lack of a place within the ideology for institutionalizing political accountability. While there is no doubt that Marxism-Leninism contained fundamental flaws even in theory, and while the doctrine became a rationalization of authoritarian (at times totalitarian) repression in practice, these flaws do very little to explain why fundamental reform was undertaken in the Soviet Union after 1985 and why Communism was consigned to the dustbin of history there and, still more suddenly, in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s.

For Gorbachev, the slowdown to a virtual halt in the rate of economic growth in the Soviet Union was undoubtedly one of the stimuli to reform, as was the wasteful and dangerous military competition with the United States. But the conclusions he drew from this, in terms of policy objectives and institutional reforms, constituted an unprecedentedly radical break with Soviet policy up until 1985. Any idea that the Soviet elite as a whole had been convinced of the need for radical change is wrong. Moreover, change can be in more than one direction. There were neo-Stalinist and Russian nationalist tendencies within the ruling Communist Party as well as social democratic and liberal orientations. The elite were deeply divided and those within the party and state apparatus who favoured fundamental reform of the political system of a Westernizing type were in a minority. They were, however, a minority, after March 1985, with a singular advantage: they had the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU on their side.

The argument that the driving force of reform in the second half of the 1980s was the condition of the economy is hard to reconcile with the clear priority which Gorbachev gave to political over economic reform. That was in spite of the fact that radical reform of the political system removed many traditional levers of power. Chinese Communist Party leaders have been much more fearful of that kind of reform than of marketizing measures which, so far, they have survived quite comfortably.

While not at all regretting those measures which liberalized the Soviet system and went a long way towards democratizing it, Gorbachev has acknowledged that the lack of sustained focus on economic issues was damaging both for his leadership and for perestroika as a transformational project. In an article he wrote for the New York Times twenty-five years to the month after the launch of perestroika, he said: “In the heat of political battles we lost sight of the economy, and people never forgave us for the shortages of everyday items and the lines for essential goods.”[ix] Gorbachev, in that article and elsewhere, has mentioned some of the special difficulties in the way of economic reform. One factor, however, on which he does not focus, but which is also extremely important, is the numerical strength of veto players within the economic system. A huge number of people were responsible for the implementation of economic policy. Their resistance, or sheer bureaucratic inertia, could make economic reform especially difficult to implement. If we compare foreign policy and economic policy, one could count on the fingers of one hand the number of personnel changes needed to make a fundamental difference to international policy – first of all, and most crucially, the change of General Secretary, then the Foreign Minister, then the heads of the International Department and the Socialist Countries Department of the Central Committee, plus the chief foreign policy adviser of the General Secretary. Gorbachev had made those changes within a year of becoming Soviet party leader. In contrast, half of the departments of the Central Committee were economic departments (until Gorbachev abolished nearly all of them in the autumn of 1988) and there were scores of economic and industrial ministries. There were also factory managers all over the country with a stake in the existing system, and, even more consequentially, regional party secretaries whose co-ordinating role in the command economy was one of the justifications for their existence.

If economic stagnation and military superpower pressures are insufficient explanations of the launch and development of perestroika, that leaves open the question of how we should, then, explain the transformation of the Soviet Union in the second half of the 1980s. There are clearly a great many factors, both long-term and short-term, which are part of the explanation of change.[x] But there are three points which go a long way towards explaining why such far-reaching change was able to take place when it did.

The first is the power and authority that was concentrated in the position of General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. That concentration of power, while not absolute in the post-Stalin era, was sufficiently great as to raise the possibility of far-reaching change, should a serious reformer ever be elevated to this post. Khrushchev was a reformer up to a point, although he was a highly erratic and inconsistent one. He played a historic role in exposing at least some of the many crimes of Stalin. By so doing, and more inadvertently, he also punctured the myth of the infallibility of the party. Although Khrushchev himself did not raise the issue, in the minds of more reflective citizens the question arose: what kind of political system was it that allowed its leader to get away with mass murder?

Yet, both within and outside the Soviet Union, it was widely argued that no-one willing to look critically at the fundamentals of the system could ever attain the post of General Secretary. It is true that if Gorbachev’s views had been as radical in 1985 as they were by 1988, and if those views were known to his colleagues, he would certainly not have been elevated to the party’s position of greatest power. But, as I have already noted, even the extent of Gorbachev’s existing reformist views was inadequately understood in the Politburo in March 1985, and Gorbachev himself did not know then how far the subsequent evolution of his ideas would take him. As long ago as June 1979, someone who was a close friend of Gorbachev when they studied together from 1950 to 1955 in the Law Faculty of Moscow University, Zdenĕk Mlynář (who later became a leading Prague Spring reformer), described Gorbachev to me as “open-minded, intelligent, and anti-Stalinist”.[xi] All three of these attributes were important and the combination of them made Gorbachev unique among members of Brezhnev’s top leadership team. Of the three, none was more consequential than a mind open to new experiences and new ideas.

What turned out to be especially significant was Gorbachev’s intellectual and political boldness combined with tactical finesse. When he met with resistance to political reform, he sometimes made tactical retreats and, especially in the later years of perestroika, there were zig-zags, some of which were counter-productive. But it was precisely in the early part of 1988, when the opposition to radical reform became stronger and more overt, that Gorbachev moved from liberalization of the system to democratization. The “theses” for the Nineteenth Party Conference, held at the end of June 1988, were published over a month earlier, shortly before Ronald Reagan arrived in the Soviet Union for his historic Moscow summit meeting. The “theses” contained, as Ambassador Jack Matlock told President Reagan at the time, many fundamentally new political ideas in the Soviet context. Matlock described them as “closer to European social democracy” than to Soviet Communist documents of the past.[xii] In particular, when the Conference took place, Gorbachev ensured that the Soviet system could never be the same again by coaxing the delegates into voting for the imminent introduction of contested elections for a legislature with real power.

What the archival evidence we now have available shows is that Gorbachev was consistently more radical than a majority of the Politburo, even after the composition of that body had changed considerably as compared with March 1985.[xiii] The report he made to the Central Committee on the Seventieth Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1987, which did contain significant innovation, would have been more radical still had it not been watered down in the Politburo. There were objections to his use of the term “socialist pluralism”. “Pluralism’, Aliev said, was an “alien concept”.[xiv] Anatoliy Luk’yanov, the Secretary of the Central Committee who at that time was supervising the KGB and the military, said he could accept the word “pluralism” only if it were rephrased as a “socialist pluralism of opinion in society”. But he would not accept “socialist pluralism” without that qualification, for it would be taken in the West to mean a “pluralism of power”. But “we, Communists, the party”, said Luk’yanov, “will not divide power with anyone”.[xv] (Less than four years later Luk’yanov was to be complicit in the coup against Gorbachev.) In the draft report which Gorbachev brought to that same Politburo meeting on 15 October 1987 was the statement that “an authoritarian-bureaucratic model of socialism” had been built in the Soviet Union. This was strongly criticized, not least by the KGB Chairman Viktor Chebrikov who said it was a Western formula. Gorbachev had to make a tactical and partial retreat, conceding that the word model” could be replaced by “methods” or “means”.[xvi] What was already evident from the public record, but has become still clearer with the benefit of access to archival documents, is that as early as 1987 Gorbachev had broken with the past ideologically.

The meaning of the ambiguous term perestroika changed quite rapidly over time. Rather than amounting to just a restructuring of the existing building, it came to mean – by 1988 – that the system should be constructed anew from its very foundation. This was, as a number of authors have observed, a “revolution from above”.[xvii] Or, as Andrei Sakharov remarked: “We began to create our new house, not from the basement but from the roof.”[xviii] When fundamental reform was adopted in the Soviet Union, it was no accident that it came from above. The system was such that it could come from nowhere else. Only in Poland, among all the European Communist states, was there a civil society sufficiently strong to challenge the Communist authorities. And even in Poland, the party-state was powerful enough to impose martial law in December 1981, turning Solidarity from a mass movement into a weakened, underground organization. Solidarity re-emerged as a serious force in Polish politics only after the Soviet perestroika, together with the transformation of Soviet foreign policy under Gorbachev, had changed the entire political climate in East-Central Europe.

The power of the general secretaryship, and the significance of a serious reformer acquiring the power and authority (including ideological authority) it bestowed, constitute, then, the first and most important explanation of why the peaceful dismantling of a Communist system occurred when it did. The second point, which is often overlooked, is that even a radically reformist General Secretary would have been unable to introduce fundamental change had there not been a constituency supportive of such change within the ruling party. Behind its monolithic façade, the CPSU contained people whose private views differed radically. They included conservatives, Stalinists, nationalists, social democrats and liberals, to mention only the most important political tendencies.

The party intelligentsia, in particular, contained people who were ready to respond to encouragement to think the unthinkable – and, still more significantly, to publish it. Those who were ready to embrace radical change were never more than a minority within the party apparatus, but they constituted a larger proportion within the party intelligentsia. Supporters of transformational change were to be found especially in the research institutes which studied international affairs and political and economic developments in other countries. The Brezhnev era was the golden age of the Soviet bureaucrat, but perestroika was the golden age of the institutchiki.[xix] Supporters of far-reaching change were also to be found among some of the best-educated members of the Central Committee apparatus. It is no accident that it was from the department which knew more than the others about the outside world – the International Department of the Central Committee – that Gorbachev was to recruit some of his most enlightened advisers. They included his principal foreign policy aide, Anatoliy Chernyaev.

That point links up with the third very important contributory factor to the change which occurred in the Soviet Union in the second half of the 1980s: the effects of societal and cultural contacts between the Soviet Union and the West. Groucho Marx (not Karl) once asked: “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?” It was only a select minority of Soviet citizens who were able to travel to Western countries from the pre-perestroika Soviet Union. Among them, however, were many who preferred the evidence of their own eyes to Soviet stereotypes and propaganda about life in the West. They numbered many of the institutchiki who were to become influential during the second half of the 1980s.

Even more significantly, they included key political actors of the perestroika era. Aleksandr Yakovlev spent ten years in dignified exile from the Central Committee as Soviet ambassador to Canada. He returned to Moscow in 1983 more critical of the Soviet system than he had been a decade earlier, in the light of this experience of living in a democratic and prosperous country. Gorbachev made a number of short visits to West European countries in the 1970s, and more significant ones (involving high-level meetings with Western politicians) to Canada, Italy and Great Britain in 1983 and 1984. Even his earlier visits led him to ask himself, “Why do we live worse than in other developed countries?” and to a questioning, as he put it (in the language of the time), of his “a priori faith in the advantages of socialist over bourgeois democracy”.[xx]

The part played by Western democracies in fostering change in the Communist world did not lie primarily in their military alliance. It was through simply being there as a better alternative to Communist rule that democracies prevailed in the battle of ideas. We hardly need to be reminded of our own problems and faults. If we needed such a reminder, the global economic crisis which began in 2008, and whose effects are still with us, provided it. However, it was of huge importance that Western democracies provided an example of greater tolerance, of free elections, accountable government, and respect for human rights, in addition to substantially higher living standards. Thinking that was radically new in the Soviet context was, in part at least, based on better knowledge of the outside world. Michnik is right. Ideas matter. But ideas, if they are to have an impact on policy, require institutional bearers – especially in a consolidated Communist system. So it remains the case that nothing was more important for the liberalization and partial democratization of the Soviet system in the second half of the 1980s than the coming together of fresh ideas, innovative leadership, and institutional power. That is the lasting significance of the choice of Gorbachev as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU twenty-five years ago.

For those who want to call perestroika katastroika and who see it as a calamitous failure, I shall end by just listing, without elaboration, twelve fundamental achievements of Gorbachev and perestroika. In several of these spheres a majority of the successor states to the USSR have gone backwards, rather than forwards, in the years since 1991. (That includes Russia, although to nothing like the same extent as the Central Asian republics.) These, then, are twelve basic achievements of perestroika (not in any particular order of importance, for they are all important):

  • The introduction of glasnost and its development into freedom of speech and publication.
  • The release of dissidents from prison and exile and the resumption of rehabilitations of those unjustly repressed in the past.
  • Freedom of religious observation and the end of persecution of the churches.
  • Freedom of communication across frontiers, including freedom to travel and an end to the jamming of foreign broadcasts.
  • The introduction of genuinely competitive elections for a legislature with real power.
  • The development of civil society – a result of perestroika, not (as some people imagine) a precursor of it.
  • Progress toward a rule of law, subjecting the Communist Party to the law, and moving supreme power from party to state institutions.
  • Replacing Leninism and dogma with a commitment to pluralism and free intellectual inquiry.
  • The ending of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the last Soviet troops from that country by February 1989.
  • Allowing the East European countries to become independent and non-Communist.
  • Consenting to, and negotiating, the peaceful reunification of Germany.
  • Underpinning these last three foreign policy decisions was a fundamental re-evaluation of world politics which Gorbachev encouraged and embraced. He rejected the notion of East-West relations as a zero-sum game and endorsed the idea that there were universal values and universal interests. By doing so, already by 1988, he demolished the ideological foundation of the Cold War. In 1989, when Gorbachev’s actions and non-actions reflected this New Thinking, the Cold War ended on the ground.

To those who still see perestroika as an overall failure, I would ask: which of these twelve achievements do they regard as inconsequential? Gorbachev sacrificed the boundless authority, the unquestioning obedience, and the orchestrated public adulation which he could have continued to enjoy for as long as he played by the rules of the traditional Soviet game. He broke with those norms in the attempt to create a better system and society than that which he inherited. Although the democratic shortcomings of post-Soviet Russia are evident, they have occurred, it is worth reminding ourselves, during years in which Gorbachev has wielded no power. What seems to me incontrovertible is that the country Gorbachev bequeathed to his successors was freer than at any time in Russian history. Even today Russia remains vastly freer than Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. In less than seven years perestroika changed the world for the better. However, the use that has been made of the opportunities it offered has fallen far short of the vision of a peaceful and more equitable world of those who attempted to reconstruct the Soviet system and the international system on new foundations. “

Note. This article is a slightly expanded version of the keynote address which Professor Brown gave at the opening session of the ICCEES VIII World Congress in Stockholm on 26 July 2010.


  1. Alexander Lukin, The Political Culture of the Russian Democrats”, Oxford 2000, especially p. 298.
  2. M. S. Gorbachev, Zhivoe tvorchestvo naroda, Moscow 1984. – I paid substantial attention to this major speech by Gorbachev in an article I published shortly after the leadership change in the Soviet Union: Archie Brown, “Gorbachev: New Man in the Kremlin”, Problems of Communism, Vol. 34: 3, May-June 1985. It is republished as chapter 2 of my book, Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective, Oxford 2007, pp. 29-67.
  3. Andrey Karaulov (ed.), Vokrug kremlya, Moscow 1990, p. 267.
  4. Official figures showed a rate of growth of 2.7 per cent in 1984. CIA as well as unofficial Soviet estimate suggested the growth rate was closer to zero. See, for example, Philip Hanson, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Economy: An Economic History of the USSR from 1945, London 2003, pp. 174-175.
  5. Ronald Reagan, An American Life, New York 1990, p. 608.
  6. Many of the Politburo minutes for those years are available in the declassified Fond 89 in the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (RGANI) and in microfilm in a number of major Western libraries. I have used the catalogued collection at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University. Other Politburo transcripts are available in the Volkogonov Papers which are also available in several Western libraries, including the National Security Archive, Washington, DC, where I accessed them.
  7. Anatoly Dobrynin, In Confidence: Moscow’s Ambassador to America’s Six Cold War Presidents (1962-1986), New York 1995, p. 544.
  8. See, especially, Jack F. Matlock, Jr, Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended, New York 2004, and Matlock, Superpower Illusions: How Myths and False Ideologies Led America Astray – and How to Return to Reality, New Haven 2010. See also James Mann, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War, New York 2009, and Beth A. Fischer, “American Foreign Policy under Reagan and Bush”, in Melvyn P. Leffler & Odd Arne Westad (eds), The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Volume III: Endings, Cambridge 2010, pp. 267-288.
  9. New York Times, March 13, 2010.
  10. For a detailed analysis – relating to Communism worldwide, and not only in the Soviet context – see Archie Brown, The Rise and Fall of Communism, London 2009.
  11. For the context, see Archie Brown, ‘Introduction”, to Mikhail Gorbachev and Zdenĕk Mlynář, Conversations with Gorbachev: On Perestroika, the Prague Spring, and the Crossroads of Socialism, New York 2002, pp. vii-xxiii, at p. xiii.
  12. Jack F. Matlock, Jr, Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador’s Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, New York 1995, pp. 121-123.
  13. Much of that evidence is to be found in the official record of Politburo meetings, contained, inter alia, in Fond 89. It is to be found also in the notes, taken at Politburo meetings, by Gorbachev’s closest associates. A substantial proportion of the latter have been published. See V Politbyuro TsK KPSS…Po zapisyam Anatoliya Chernyaeva, Vadima Medvedeva, Georgiya Shakhnazarova (1985-1991), Moscow, 2nd ed., 2008.
  14. “Zasedanie Politbyuro TsK KPSS, 15 Okyabrya 1987 goda”, Volkogonov Collection, National Security Archive, Washington, DC, p. 155.
  15. Ibid., p. 176.
  16. Ibid., pp. 149-150.
  17. See, for example, Gordon Hahn, Russia’s Revolution from Above: Reform, Transition, and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, New Brunswick 2002.
  18. As cited by his widow Elena Bonner in Andrei Grachev, Chiara Blengino & Rossella Stievano (eds.), 1985-2005: Twenty Years that Changed the World, World Political Forum, Turin, and Editori Laterza 2005, p. 175.
  19. I have argued this case at length in my chapter, “Institutional Amphibiousness or Civil Society? The Origins and Development of Perestroika”, in Brown, Seven Years that Changed the World, pp. 157-189.
  20. Mikhail Gorbachev, Zhizn’ i reformy, Vol. 1, Moscow 1995, p. 169.
  • by Archie Brown

    Archie Brown is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Oxford University and an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 1991 and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2003. His most recent book is The Rise and Fall of Communism (2009).

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