Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet politician and last leader of the Soviet Union, born 1931

Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev came from a family of farmers. In a steep party-career he ascended to the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1971. From March 1985 to August 1991 Gorbachev was General Secretary of the Central Committee and from March 1990 until his resignation on December 25, 1991 President of the Soviet Union. He set new accents in Soviet politics with Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (remodeling). His decision to end the Brezhnev doctrine opened the way to political self-determination for the Warsaw Pact countries. In 1990 Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in German reunification.