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Luis Salgado

What is glasnost?

- The initiative was aimed at opening up the outdated regime to new systems and practices in the hope that it would revitalize the decrepit communist state.

What is glasnost?

The literal translation of glasnost is openness. However, the word refers to one of the last attempts to save the broken Soviet Union. The initiative was aimed at opening up the outdated regime to new systems and practices in the hope that it would revitalize the decrepit communist state. While glasnost relaxed the government, politics played an important role in the dissolution of the USSR.

When Mikhail Gorbachev first came to power in 1985, the Soviet Union had been battered by tumultuous decades filled with war, food shortages, corruption, and severe social problems. International relations were also particularly low, as the Cold War decades had cultivated a tired and mistrustful relationship between the communist state and the West.

In an attempt to restore the bankrupt government, Gorbachev introduced the policy of glasnost which was aimed at relaxing censorship and introducing degrees of democracy into the Soviet government. The new Secretary General also believed that for the regime to progress, the party's activities needed to be transparent enough to expose some of its problems, while he continued to hide others.

As part of the initiative, Gorbachev encouraged the Soviets to have their say on communism and for the party to listen to the masses in general. Elections were introduced, removing the full authority previously held by the Party.

Glasnost also loosened state control over the media and allowed for a more liberal dissemination of news and information throughout the Soviet Union. This was a trick from which Sovietism never properly recovered. Gorbachev had no intention of relinquishing full state control. However, journalists pushed the new freedoms of him. For the first time in decades, the media were able to adequately report on government events and on social issues such as the AIDS epidemic and homelessness. The regime simply fought to get it back.

The term glasnost is often associated with perestroika, which was another Gorbachev policy introduced shortly before glasnost and focused on restructuring the Soviet economy. Consumer goods were manufactured to a poor standard, industrial production had grown sluggish, and the economy was generally weak, exhausted by the Cold War arms race. Perestroika was the restructuring of the Soviet economy away from centralized control towards an economy that favored small businesses and individual businesses. It basically turned it into a capitalist market, although this was a very difficult process.

Along with the economic reform of perestroika and the easing of tensions between other countries, glasnost eventually led to the end of the USSR. He wasn't supposed to do it, but he did. And for this reason, glasnost is considered a failure of the state. The Berlin Wall fell and the occupied countries were freed from regime control as the party's power waned. However, glasnost restored to Soviet citizens the social freedoms they had not enjoyed for decades and gave them the promise of a more democratic future.


    Shane, Scott (1994). «Letting Go of the Leninist Faith». Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.

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Salgado, Luis. “¿Qué es glasnost?.” CEMERI, 6 sept. 2022,