August 19, 2022

The term perestroika (in Russian: перестройка?, [Pʲɪrʲɪˈstrojkə], lit. the political and social structure of the country. The interventions were aimed at establishing a so-called "socialist rule of law" and at a renewal that did not deny the fundamental values ​​of Soviet society. Following the profound changes made to the system, however, the course of events spiraled out of control and quickly led to the dissolution of the USSR in just four or five years.

Origin of the term

Between 15 and 17 May 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev, the new General Secretary of the Communist Party, went to Leningrad, where he met with the party's city committee. On that occasion he affirmed: «It is evident, comrades, that we all have to rebuild ourselves. All". He used the verb "perestrajvat'sja" (Russian: перестрайваться ?, rebuild oneself) as a metaphor that was later disseminated by the media and became the slogan of a new phase in the history of the Soviet Union. at the time, this concept did not indicate a radical change in the socio-economic situation, but referred to the reorganization of some economic functions and relations ».


A reformist component within the CPSU had existed since the seventies, in particular among the party leaders at the regional level, but it initially developed extremely slowly. In 1985, however, upon the death of Secretary General Černenko, the perception of the need for renewal led to a group of young leaders, starting with the new Secretary General Michail Gorbachev, at the head of the party and the USSR, intending to start a restructuring process. The beginning of the new course was marked by the April 1985 meeting of the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU in which a path of reorganization of all aspects of the social life of the country was outlined. The starting point in this direction was to be the acceleration ("uskorenie") of economic development, through which the aim was to resolve basic social issues, first of all those of housing and food. Gorbachev's first statements did not hint at the desire to affect the political system, however the new leader immediately initiated a large-scale turnover of executives and officials, which led to the entry into the Politburo of four new members and the appointment of three new Secretaries of the Central Committee. Among these appointments, those of Aleksandr Jakovlev and Egor Ligačëv would have turned out to be of particular importance, bearers of two different tendencies within the reformist leadership: the first on more radical positions, the second more conservative, while Gorbačëv was placed in a role Yakovlev himself, as head of the propaganda office of the Central Committee, initiated the first important interventions in the socio-political sphere by promoting the policy of glasnost '("transparency"), which led to a considerable reduction in censorship, '' increase in the number of periodical publications, a growth in population activism, the discussion of government policies in the press as well as in special meetings open to citizens. Yakovlev obtained a large turnover at the top of most of the media, thus guaranteeing broad support from the press to reform positions. The replacements wanted by the new leadership, however, affected the leaders of all areas of life in the country as well as the party committees at the republican, regional and district level. Years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yakovlev com