President Gorbachev Matryoshka Doll. In March of 1990, the Congress of People’s Deputies elected General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev as the new president of the Soviet Union. The election was a victory for Gorbachev, but it revealed serious weaknesses in his power base that would eventually lead to the collapse of his presidency in December of 1991. He was facing criticism from reformers and communist hard-liners. The reformers (Boris Yeltsin) criticized him for the phlegmatic pace of his reform agenda. Communist hard-liners saw Gorbachev’s retreat from Marxist principles as betrayal. So Gorbachev amended the Soviet constitution and wrote a section establishing more power to the president, a position previously largely symbolic.
On this set of dolls, Mikhail Gorbachev sports white-rimmed glasses and a brown tie and grasps a blue paper written with the word "Перестройка" (Perestroika). An earnest white-haired Boris Yeltsin stares determinedly over the new Russian flag. Leonid Brezhnev with his bushy eyebrows is depicted wearing soldier-green bedecked with military medals and holding a bottle of vodka and a glass. He did, after all, crack down on the Russian fondness for drink. Stalin is next and is depicted wearing a cowl and cape ladling bones and holding a skull. Lenin is the last little doll and points at his written works which are simply marked "Lenin". All of the leaders are depicted wearing a red cape, which is a highly unusual touch and which perhaps symbolizes the Soviet flag. The artist's satirical intention is not hard to see. Painted in the early 1990's. 6½" down to 1½". 1 only. In excellent condition.
Most of the the early "Gorby" (an mildly affectionate name for "Gorbachev") dolls were made by talented amateurs in the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev transformed the USSR by unleashing a pair of political, and cultural, waves. The first was "Гласность" (Glasnost, i.e, openness) and "Перестройка" (Perestroika, i.e., rebuilding). These shock waves led to unrestrained freedom of expression.