Restructuring (perestroika) and openness (glasnost) were the most important elements of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform agenda. Perestroika, in Gorbachev’s view, was a reorientation of the Soviet economy toward limited market reform, much like Vladimir Lenin’s New Economic Policy of the 1920s. The hope was that reform would lead to a revitalization of the consumer sector of the economy. In effect, however, Gorbachev allowed only tinkering with the faltering Soviet economy; he would not consider any legalization of large-scale private business or the return of private property. Perestroika did not benefit the Soviet populace. The emergence of small business did not fill economic needs of the Soviet population for higher quality food and consumer goods. In the late 1980s, inflation and deficits of consumer goods and quality food continued — even intensified as the system teetered toward total collapse. One class did benefit from perestroika: the Soviet Union’s criminal gangs were well positioned to act as extortionists in the new economy. The KGB was horrified by the excesses of perestroika; much of the senior leadership believed that Gorbachev’s half-hearted reforms had unleashed corruption unseen in Soviet history. Perestroika may be remembered as a fatal half-step that indirectly led to the August putsch of 1991 and the end of the Soviet Union.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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