Gorbachev implemented five reforms:
withdrew troops from several (not all Russian-occupied) countries,
eased travelling abroad (eased, not abolished controls altogether),
Reduced political repression (did not abolish it altogether, but continued it).
All these actions are exactly like those of Xiaoping, who came to power seven years earlier than Gorbachev.
The main purpose of these actions was to strengthen the economy (especially to reduce military spending), enrich the nomenklatura and apparatchiks, expand the opportunities of the elite - and, above all, to weaken the control of the party and lift restrictions on the amount of personal wealth.
As a result, Gorbachev made himself a fortune of many millions, which his predecessors could not even dream of. Besides, he was able to spend money not only in Russia, which he actively took advantage of.
This policy had a side effect: opportunities for ordinary citizens expanded, but not evenly. First of all, representatives of intellectual professions, who hurried to emigrate to the West, benefited. Living standards fell, but not for the nomenklatura and apparatchiks.
An anecdote from those years: the chain was lengthened, the muzzle was removed, and the dog was allowed to bark, but he was fed every other day.
Intellectuals phrased it differently: a sip of freedom.
Alas, freedom is not vodka; you don't drink it or give it a drink. A gift of freedom is like a wife appointed by the master.
Priest Alexander Men: "While hunters quarrel, hares can jump.
Men was killed a year before Gorbachev was overthrown.
"Gorbachev brought down the USSR" is a myth.
First, "USSR" was just a fake designation for the Russian Empire after 1922.
Secondly, the liberation of a half dozen countries conquered by Russia from its oppression (East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) was a by-product of Yeltsin's scheming.
Yeltsin used the dead rules of the law on the rights of the republics to get the elites of these countries on his side against Gorbachev, promising - and giving - them independence in return if he came to power. Once he overthrew Gorbachev, Yeltsin proceeded to keep the subjugated nations under Kremlin rule.