Mikhail Gorbachev

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Mikhail Gorbachev rose up through the ranks of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union to become its national leader, a role he served in from 1985 to 1991, unilaterally instituting liberalizing reform that lead starting in 1989 to the end of Soviet style Communism in Europe, the break up of the Soviet Union and at some point in that time period to the end of the Cold War. This in turn lead to the formation of new countries such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Lithuania, the demise of the Warsaw Pact, the reunification of Germany, the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, and the not so peaceful demise of Yugoslavia into Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and various other former Yugoslavian Republics.

In 1990 Boris Yeltsin was elected President of the Russian Republic within the Soviet Union and he was elected again in a direct popular election 1991. Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev then negotiated a formal end to the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991, leaving Gorbachev without a job.

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