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Glasnost
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Glasnost

Glasnost (Гласность), meaning "openness", was one of Mikhail Gorbachev's policies introduced to the Soviet Union in 1985. Gorbachev's goal in undertaking glasnost was in part to pressure conservatives within the party who opposed his policies of economic restructuring or perestroika.

While in the West the notion of "glasnost" is associated with freedom of speech, the main goal of this policy was to make the country's management transparent and open to debate, to change the former situation when major political and management decisions were made by a narrow circle of apparatchiks or within the Politburo, and were beyond criticism.

Glasnost gave new freedoms to the people, such as a greater freedom of speech -- a radical change as control of speech and suppression of government criticiscm had previously been a central part of the Soviet system. Glasnost was considered a step towards real democracy in Russia. The press became far less controlled, to such an extent that the official Komsomol newspaper was banned in Czechoslovakia following the introduction of glasnost.

Under glasnost, the people were able to learn significantly more about the horrors committed by the government when Josef Stalin was in power. Although Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin's personality cult, information about the true proportions of his atrocities was still suppressed.

Thousands of political prisoners and many dissidents were released in the spirit of glasnost. However, Gorbachev's original goal of using glasnost and perestroika to reform the Soviet Union proved futile, and the government of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, following a failed coup by conservative elements who were opposed to Gorbachev's reforms.

See also: