Perestroika, glasnost and ‘no sex’: Gorbachev-era buzzwords – Times of India


MOSCOW: The memorable era of ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who passed away at the age of 91, was often defined by buzzwords and slogans.
From perestroika until glasnost to “Gorbymania,” here are five of the best-known.
Short for Gorbachev’s drive to modernize the Soviet economy and society, perestroika means change or reform.
In early 1985, Gorbachev said in a speech: “It is clear, comrades, that we all have to change. All of us.”
He used a verb that means to change formation while marching or change lanes while driving.
The noun perestroika is also used to refer to the reconstruction of buildings.
The word was adopted and became a slogan that encapsulated the era.
Glasnost means making information public as a topic of conversation. The term was initially used for reforms in the Tsarist era.
Gorbachev first spoke about it in February 1986. At first it referred to ordinary Soviet citizens who could criticize state and communist party organizations.
But later on, the word came to mean much more: ending official censorship and blocking foreign radio stations and publishing previously banned literature.
A Soviet woman’s response to a question from an American on a popular talk show broadcast in both countries in 1986 has gone down in history as an expression of prudish and naive attitudes supposedly present in the Soviet Union.
“Commercials in our country have a lot to do with sex. Do you have commercials on television?” asked an American woman during a female-only show in the studio hosted by Phil Donahue and Vladimir Pozner.
A woman in the Leningrad audience, Lyudmila Ivanova, replied: “We don’t have sex and we are categorically against this.”
Another woman in the audience promptly yells, “We’re having sex. We don’t have commercials!”
Ivanova told Metro newspaper in 2010 that she added “we have love,” but the phrase was cut from the show.
In Russia, Gorbachev is normally referred to by his name and patronymic: Mikhail Sergeevich. But in the mid-1980s, the Western media started shortening his name to Gorby, calling his rising popularity as “Gorbymania”.
One of Gorbachev’s most unpopular reforms was designed to address the Soviet Union’s economic problems by reducing excessive drinking. In 1985 a resolution of the Central Committee was passed and printed in all the newspapers. The slogan was “austerity is the norm of life.”
To make it more difficult to buy alcohol, Gorbachev put limits on the number of hours alcohol can be sold in stores, creating huge queues.
He also ordered the destruction of many of the country’s vineyards, hitting hard on the legal beverage industry and encouraging people to make their own moonshine. The campaign eventually petered out.

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