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March 2, 1931: Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is born in the city of Privolnoye in the Stavropol region of southern Russia.1955: Gorbachev graduates from Moscow State University, returns to Stavropol, joins Young Communists League. He becomes head of the city's Communist Party organization in 1966; the regional organization in 1970. 1978: Gorbachev returns to Moscow when named party Central Committee secretary for agriculture. 1979: Under the patronage of eventual party leader Yuri Andropov, Gorbachev is named a nonvoting member of the Politburo. He is named a full member in 1980. March 1985: Gorbachev becomes general secretary following death of party boss Konstantin Chernenko. He launches perestroika and glasnost. February 1986: Gorbachev denounces the "stagnation era" of Leonid Brezhnev, calls for overhaul of centralized economy. April 1986: Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurs. Glasnost is discredited when officials take two days to admit to the accident. November 1987: Gorbachev ousts Boris Yeltsin from the Politburo after the latter calls for more rapid reform. December 1987: Gorbachev and Reagan sign nuclear dis- armament treaty to scrap intermediate-range missiles. December 1988: Gorbachev announces conventional arms cuts, withdrawal of 250,000 troops from Eastern Europe. February 1989: The last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan, ending nine years of Soviet involvement in the Afghan civil war. November 1989: Anti-communist revolutions begin to sweep Eastern Europe. Soviet Army does nothing to intervene. December 1989: Gorbachev meets Bush in Malta; they hail the end of the cold war. February 1990: Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution is repealed, ending the Communist Party's monopoly on power. March 1990: Gorbachev elected Soviet president by parliament. Lithuania declares independence; Latvia follows in May. May 1990: Gorbachev jeered by crowd at traditional May Day parade. Yeltsin elected chairman of Russian parliament. August 1990: Gorbachev and Yeltsin agree to team up on implementing radical economic reform, known as the "500-Days Program." Gorbachev backs off radical reform in October. December 1990: Gorbachev replaces liberal interior minister with hard-liner. Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze resigns, warning of an impending dictatorship. June 1991: Yeltsin elected president of Russia. July 1991: Gorbachev and Bush sign treaty making deep cuts in US and Soviet arsenals at Moscow summit. Aug. 19, 1991: Coup attempt collapses after two days. Aug. 24, 1991: Gorbachev resigns party post. Sept. 1991: Baltic states leave the Soviet Union. @BODYTEXT = Dec. 8, 1991: Russia, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia form Commonwealth of Independent States. New political arrangement leaves Gorbachev no role.

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