Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman.
He was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991 when the party was dissolved.
He served as the country's head of state from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991.
He was the only general secretary in the history of the Soviet Union to have been born after the October Revolution.
Gorbachev was born in Stavropol Krai into a peasant Ukrainian–Russian family, and in his teens operated combine harvesters on collective farms.
He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law.
While he was at the university, he joined the Communist Party, and soon became very active within it.
In 1970, he was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee, First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet in 1974, and appointed a member of the Politburo in 1979.
Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief "interregna" of Andropov and Chernenko, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo in 1985.