The Keys ep6 Perestroika. The beginning of the end

The father of perestroika – Soviet Union’s last leader Mikhail Gorbachev – announced the economic reforms soon after coming to power, softening censorship, releasing political prisoners, permitting private business, and starting denuclearization talks. The same year, Time magazine declared Gorbachev the Man of the Year.
Perestroika was hailed as a new beginning. We all know how it ended. The soft economic reforms turned into a catastrophic implosion. Perestroika destroyed the stagnating world order and turned upside down the history of the 20th century. In February 1987 Gorbachev visited Riga. In this episode of the Keys we will retrace the tour of the General Secretary to understand what happened in the places he visited, what happened with the people he met and what happened with Gorbachev himself when all of it was over.


The Keys ep18 15 May 1934, the coup d’état of Latvia.

A key figure in the coup was Kārlis Ulmanis, the prime minister and later self-proclaimed president. However, there was a man who could have...

The Keys ep15 Art Days in Soviet Latvia - a gift to Lenin

In the 1970s and 80s, the Art Days was one of the top cultural events in Latvia. But was it a true creative freedom?

The Keys ep14 Election of Latvia’s first parliament

We celebrate the date of the Constitutional Assembly, 1 May, as a national holiday. However, the election campaign was all but noble.

The Keys ep13 The russification of Latvia

The population composition undergoes violent and unimaginable social and national changes during the 1950s after World War II.

The Keys ep12 Kristaps Morbergs and sharing one's wealth

How the Latvian University manages the valuable estate, and why wealthy people tend to share their money.

The Keys ep11 Privatization

Latvia's difficult path to free market and private property based capitalist economy.

The Keys ep10 1949 March Deportations and Lielvārde's incredible escape

25 March 1949 saw the most horrific deportations in the history of Latvia. But there was one rural territory, from which not a single...

The Keys ep9 The Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires

It was officially observed just once, and then abolished in fear that the world would not understand the honouring of Nazi army veterans.

The Keys ep8 Latvian lats

Latvian lats: the national currency from its introduction in 1922 until the replacement with euro in 2014.

The Keys ep7 The Khrushchev Thaw

It all started with a funeral bell announcing the death of Stalin on 5 March 1953. Most significantly for Latvians, the Siberian deportees returned...

The Keys ep6 Perestroika. The beginning of the end

In February 1987 Gorbachev visited Riga. What happened with the people he met and what happened with Gorbachev himself when all of it was...

The Keys ep5 The Freedom Fights.

Was the birth of Latvia a lucky coincidence or perhaps a smart and dazzling political tango?

The Keys ep4 Independent Latvia's return to the Olympic Games

The fight for Latvia's return to the free world of sports had to be fought in the same trenches as its fight for political...

The Keys ep3 Soviet repressions against Riga intellectuals in the early 1950s

During the totalitarian Soviet regime, Riga intellectuals were charged with high treason for organizing French literature nights.

The Keys ep2 University in a war-destroyed zoo

So-called diaspora Latvians are an intrinsic part of our nation and our country's history.

The Keys ep1 The 1991 January Barricades

The 1991 January Barricades in Baltics - the key to the stability of the new world order.