NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Mr Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, is credited with helping to end the Cold War without bloodshed. He died on Tuesday (Aug 30) at the age of 91. These are some key moments in his career.
March 2, 1931
Mikhail Gorbachev, known as Misha, is born to peasant parents in Privolnoye, a farming village in the Stavropol region, in what was then the Soviet Union's far southwest and North Caucasus.
Mr Gorbachev begins his Soviet political career. He is named first secretary of the Komsomol for the Stavropol region.
By 1970, he had become party chief for the entire region, a position similar in stature to a governor of a US state.
Mr Gorbachev becomes a full member of the Politburo after a markedly rapid ascent.
March 11, 1985
Mr Gorbachev, then 54, becomes the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, after the deaths of several older leaders in quick succession.
Nov 19, 1985
President Ronald Reagan meets with Mr Gorbachev for the first time in Geneva.
The two have long, private meetings during the two-day summit, which marked the first encounter between US and Soviet leaders in six years.
Jan 27, 1987
Mr Gorbachev proposes new laws to democratise Soviet life and protect citizens against abuses of power, including elections by secret ballot and legislation to protect open debate.
July 15, 1990
A turning point for news media freedom: Mr Gorbachev lifts the state broadcast monopoly, giving other political movements access to the airwaves.
He calls for television and radio outlets to be run "independently of political and social organisations" and to provide "impartial and thorough" coverage.
Oct 15, 1990
Mr Gorbachev wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution toward international peace and helping to end the Cold War.
Mr Gorbachev remains in power after an attempted coup by hard-line Communists collapses. He describes the coup leaders as "a miserable group" that tried to "break" him.
"The whole world should know about this, what exactly was being plotted," he said, "and what it is that they did not succeed in getting from me."
Dec 25, 1991
Mr Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union after six years and nine months at the helm. The next day, the Soviet Union dissolves.