Mikhail Gorbachev's life in dates

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 1, 1996 Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, talks during his press conference in Moscow, announcing his candidacy for the presidency.

Moscow, Russia | Here are key dates in the life of ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

- March 2, 1931: He is born into a peasant family in the village of Privolnoye in the southern Stavropol region.

- 1946: Starts working as an operator of a combine harvester on a collective farm.

- 1952: Joins the ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, made up of several socialist republics.

- 1953: Marries Raisa Titarenko whom he met at university while studying law. They will have a daughter, Irina, in 1957. Raisa dies in 1999 from leukaemia.

- 1985-1991: He leads the Soviet Union as general secretary of the Communist Party and as president when the post is introduced in 1990.

- October 1985: Presents a modernising economic reform plan known as perestroika.

- 1987: He and the US president, Ronald Reagan, sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on slashing their nuclear arsenals, ending a superpower build-up of warheads.

- 1988-1989: Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan, defeated after a 10-year campaign.

- 1990: Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for reforms leading to the end of the Cold War between Eastern and Western blocs.

- August 1991: Hardline communists carry out a failed coup while Gorbachev is on holiday in Crimea. A series of Soviet republics begin declaring independence.

- December 1991: After the leaders of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine conclude that the Soviet Union no longer exists and sign accords for its dissolution, Gorbachev resigns.

- 1996: He stands as an independent in presidential polls but takes only 0.5 percent, Boris Yeltsin winning the election.

© Agence France-Presse

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