Mikhail Gorbachev (born March 2, 1931) was a human political leader who lived on Earth during the 20th and 21st centuries. Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union, having served from 1985 to 1991.
By 1985, Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko was dying. Shortly before Chernenko's death, Roberta Lincoln was sent to Moscow to help increase Gorbachev's chances of succeeding Chernenko as the Soviet Union's leader. (TOS - The Eugenics Wars novel: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume 1)
In the late 1980s, Gorbachev began a program called perestroika to reform the Soviet Union, which by then was experiencing social and economic hardship due to extensive military spending and the inefficiencies inherent in central economic planning. Perestroika was a Russian word meaning "restructuring," and was coupled with the term glasnost, which could mean either "openness" or "publicity" by the Russian government. This program, which was also encouraged by United States President Ronald Reagan, precipitated a liberalization of the Soviet Union - which was to include the elimination of corruption, simplification of bureaucracy, and production improvements. By 1991, hardliners in the Soviet government attempted to roll back the reforms by staging an attempted coup. This coup failed within a few days when the leaders of the coup were unable to consolidate power. After the coup was defeated, many of the Soviet Union's constituent members began to assert their independence, and the Soviet Union was dissolved on December 25, 1991. (TOS novel: Probe)
Movie director Nicholas Meyer revealed in his DVD commentary for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country that Klingon Chancellor Gorkon's name was created by combining the names "Gorbachev" and "Lincoln", drawing on the film's historical and political parallels.