perestroika was borne out of the need for economic reform with a dwindling agricultural industry that struggled to feed its own population and an on-going conflict in Afghanistan. gorbachev believed that this couldn’t be achieved without political reform first. major changes included the ability for citizens to choose their own representatives in elections instead of those assigned to them by the government. in the march 1989 elections for the country’s legislature, around 300 reformist candidates were elected and many of the previous hardline politicians like andrey and Gromyko were removed.
perestroika also dismantled the centralised economy and in july 1987 gorbachev abolished the production quotas which had been the source of so much unrest in the soviet regime and allowed factories to determine their own output; moving towards a more capitalist model. they were not fully private though, as they were owned by workers’ collective instead of private individuals. however in may 1988, private ownership of mist businesses was allowed by the government as well as foreign trade. foreign investment in Russian business was also permitted, as long as the majority of ownership and administrative control remained Russian. this was not complete overhaul though, as the government still controlled such as price control and regulation of foreign exchange.
with the openness of glasnost came more relaxed censorship policies (although it still persisted), and previously banned literature was now allowed to be read. more free and public debate facilitated extensive discussion about the oppressiveness of stalin’s regime, which brought more outspoken objection to living standards compared to the west. in 1989, a conference of the congress of people’s deputies was televised, during which they criticised many previous leaders, the military and the KGB. with this there was a growing sense of nationalism in countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who declared independence in 1989 and 1990, which angered the old communists and the military who were firm believers in the old regime.