Mikhail Gorbachev’s first pronouncements as General Secretary of the CPSU gave little indication of the turmoil that was to come. At the meeting of the Politburo which affirmed his appointment on 11 March 1985, shortly after Chernenko’s death he assured his colleagues that there was ‘no need to change our policies’ [44: 3]. In his acceptance speech he praised his predecessors, Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko, and promised to continue their policies. In private, however, the day before his appointment he had confided to his wife Raisa that ‘life demands action, and has done so for a long time. No, we can’t go on living like this any more’ [13: 445]. At the next meeting of the CPSU CC in April, he argued for a ‘qualitatively new state of society’ which was to be achieved by modernisation and the development of Soviet democracy. Such phrases were commonplace from Party leaders and could usually be safely ignored, but there were indications that Gorbachev really meant to bring about change. At a meeting in Leningrad in May 1985, he announced that ‘obviously, we all of us must undergo reconstruction, all of us … Everyone must adopt new approaches and understand that no other path is available to us’ [11: 441].
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Personnel and Policies
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number