Perestroika

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Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union.

Perestroika, translating as "restructuring," is the term given to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's attempt at liberalizing the stagnant Soviet economic system. First used by Gorbachev in 1986, his goal was not to end the socialist command economy of the Soviet Union, but to instead transform it to meet the needs of its citizens.

With its counterpart "glasnost," meaning openness, the policies of "glasnost and perestroika" sought by Gorbachev signaled to the west that detente was a goal of the Soviet Union. Most observers considered that by 1989, the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union was over, just six years after a very close call with nuclear war. However, these reforms moved too fast for Gorbachev and the Soviet system as a whole to cope with. Glasnost rolled back suppression of information on atrocities committed by the Soviet Union, and revealed to the public the state of corruption in Moscow. On the other hand, opponents of reform felt that Gorbachev was too extreme in his views, and only stiffened their opposition to him. This would culminate in the hardline August Coup in 1991, followed by the effective dissolution of the Soviet Union by the end of the year. Democratic states, albeit many of which can be considered democratic in name only, emerged from the former Soviet republics, and thus Gorbachev became a relic of the past.

Most observers did not expect the Soviet Union as a whole to collapse, and with its collapse, came a power vacuum. But, what if Gorbachev was successful in his reforms? Or rather, he takes lessons from Deng Xiaoping's reforms in China. The policy of glasnost, in particular, was one major difference between Deng and Gorbachev's reforms, as China maintained its autocratic model of government, while the Soviet Union did not. This timeline will explore what would have happened had Gorbachev sought less glasnost, and more Perestroika.

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