History of the Soviet Union

Rise of Gorbachev
Gorbachev at the Brandenburg Gate in April 1986 during a visit to East Germany ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1985 Mar 10

Rise of Gorbachev


On 10 March 1985, Chernenko died. Gromyko proposed Gorbachev as the next general secretary; as a longstanding party member, Gromyko's recommendation carried great weight among the Central Committee. Gorbachev expected much opposition to his nomination as general secretary, but ultimately the rest of the Politburo supported him. Shortly after Chernenko's death, the Politburo unanimously elected Gorbachev as his successor; they wanted him rather than another elderly leader. He thus became the eighth leader of the Soviet Union. Few in the government imagined that he would be as radical a reformer as he proved. Although not a well-known figure to the Soviet public, there was widespread relief that the new leader was not elderly and ailing.

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