Gorbachev's First Five Years in the Soviet Leadership

The Clash of Personalities and the Remaking of Institutions

by Harry Gelman

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This report provides an overview of the dilemmas that arose from Gorbachev's efforts to change the Soviet Union during his first five years in power. The study seeks to show how the conflicts in various arenas of Soviet life have affected each other. The author reviews the struggle among the Soviet leaders from the spring of 1985 through the spring of 1990. Because the economic dimension is probably the decisive one, the report first traces how and why the Soviet leaders arrived at their present economic predicament. The study then reviews the purely political aspects of the leadership struggle as it evolved and the implications of Gorbachev's emerging political reforms. It discusses the main features of the nationality crisis as they affected Gorbachev. The study then considers the evolution of Gorbachev's relations with the military and their institutional consequences. Finally, it weighs the implications of the political role of the KGB for the Gorbachev leadership.

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