For a Soviet General Secretary presumably committed to the collectivist principles of Marxism-Leninism, Mikhail Gorbachev has been peculiarly insistent upon the decisive importance of individual leadership. In speech after speech it was not only the socioeconomic order that Gorbachev held to be the source of the Soviet Union's problems: the quality and style of its political leadership were also crucial factors.
* Department of Modern History and Department of Politics, University of Glasgow. The authors' ‘Soviet Elite Project’ is currently examining membership of the CPSU Central Committee (CC) in the whole period 1917–90. The project is still in its early stages, but recent events have been so striking - especially the resignation of ninety-eight out of 468 CC members at the April 1989 CC plenary meeting - that scholarly purposes would be served by outlining them here, using the initial stages of the SEP database and some of the material made available in the era oS glasnost'.