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For the USSR, the traumas of the 1980s included fighting a losing battle in Afghanistan after invading the country in 1979; being dubbed an "evil empire" by President Ronald Reagan; and dealing with a horrific nuclear power plant accident in Chernobyl.
In an effort to save the empire, in 1985, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the bold new policy of glasnost. Literally "publicity" in Russian, glasnost permitted new levels of freedom of speech.
It also became a buzzword of the decade. For instance, as People magazine reported,
"... the first Russian dancer permitted to perform again with a Soviet company after defecting, Makarova would become a remarkable human symbol of glasnost, Mikhail Gorbachev's daring design for a more open Soviet society." Susan Schindehette, August 22, 1988