Photos, videos and archives that tell the story of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union

March 1985: Gorbachev, an explosive youth, comes to power

In 1985, Gorbachev, then 54, was elected General Secretary of the CPSU. He succeeds curator Andrei Gromyko. Mikhail Gorbachev, who became general secretary of the party in 1985, wanted to end the conflict with the West and give the Soviet Union new impetus.

November 1985: Geneva summit and first meeting with Reagan

From November 19 to 20, 1985, in the midst of the Cold War, Geneva hosted General Secretary of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan. This is the first time the two leaders are meeting. Objective: To discuss international diplomacy and the arms race.

A meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in November 1985 led to the signing of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range Missiles two years later.

■ April 1986: Chernobyl

On the night of April 25-26, a major nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl power plant. The disaster shook the Soviet Union, but the Soviet authorities did not send any information. Until May 14, 1986, when Mikhail Gorbachev finally spoke publicly A speech 45 minutes. An extraordinary openness compared to typical Soviet communication.

December 8, 1987: Nuclear deal signed

United States and USSR Summit: US President Ronald Reagan and USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev enter the Oval Office in Washington. Mikhail Gorbachev signed the guest book.

On that day, the two leaders signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF in French). Goal: To destroy US and Soviet Union range of missiles carrying nuclear or conventional payloads.

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October 1990: Nobel Peace Prize

“The man of East-West rapprochement”, receives the Nobel Peace Prize. But Gorbachev is criticized in the Soviet Union, while the country remains stuck despite reforms.

Summer 1991: Gorbachev’s power declines, Yeltsin succeeds

Boris Yeltsin was elected President of the Russian Federation by universal suffrage. Gorbachev’s power subsequently declined sharply. He stepped down as head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on August 24, days after a failed military coup against him. The Minsk Agreements, signed on December 8 between Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, created the Commonwealth of Independent States, heralding the end of the Soviet Union.

December 25, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigns

On December 25, Gorbachev resigned as President of the Soviet Union. Absence.

An appearance on the international stage

After returning to politics with a failed bid for the 1996 presidential election, Mikhail Gorbachev continues to appear on the international stage.

Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the authoritarian turn of Vladimir Putin’s regime in the 2010s. However, he said in 2014 that he was in favor of annexing Crimea. On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mikhail Gorbachev would remain calm and prudent.

Our articles

Editorial: Europe owes much to Gorbachev, a visionary

International Press Review: The great and small legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev, at the same time giant and pariah, was seen by the media

Story of a Life: Mikhail Gorbachev, the last death of the Soviet Union

Reactions around the world: Mikhail Gorbachev, the “rare leader”, was not admired domestically, but was hailed internationally as a “tireless defender of peace”.

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