Raisa Gorbacheva – Soviet and Russian public figure
Raisa Gorbacheva is remembered not only as the first lady of the country and the wife of the only president of the Soviet Union. This woman was engaged in serious charitable work, and her own career and family life, which was completely on her shoulders.
Throughout Mikhail Gorbachev’s presidency and even later, her actions were discussed and condemned, but it can be confidently asserted that this woman with a difficult biography was distinguished by an enviable force of character and endurance.
The future wife of the President was born on January 5, 1932 in Rubtsovsk (Altai Krai). Raisa Maksimovna’s father was from Chernigov province, and her mother was a native Siberian woman. There were three children in the family. Her sister Lyudmila worked as an oculist and her brother Evgeni Titarenko became a writer.
Because of their father’s profession (he worked as an engineer on the railway), Titarenko’s family – this is the maiden name of Raisa – often moved. They weren’t rich, so Raisa understood that it was necessary to study well and get a profession to help the family. These thoughts were supported by her mother, who in her youth had no opportunity to get an education.
In 1949, the girl finished school with honors and went to Moscow. In the capital, Raisa Maksimovna easily entered the Moscow State University named after Mikhail Lomonosov, having chosen the philosophical faculty. And in 1955, already being the wife of Gorbachev, Raisa moved to Stavropol. There she taught philosophy in medical and agricultural institutes. In parallel, the woman was engaged in science – she studied sociology and did her own research in this field. Her daughter Irina was born in 1957. Ten years later, in 1967, Raisa defended her thesis in sociology.
Later, in 1978, Gorbacheva and her husband returned to the capital. There Raisa got a job as a teacher at the Moscow State University. A few years later, in 1985, Raisa Maksimovna began to accompany her husband (at that time already Secretary General of the Central Committee) on all business and official trips.
It is worth noting that for that time such behavior of the wife of the party leader was unheard: the wives of the first persons and politicians always stayed in the shadows, often no one even knew their names, and the photos of these women never got into the press of that time. But Raisa Maksimovna considered her duty to support her husband in everything and constantly be close to him.
Surprisingly, she was met abroad with much greater sympathy and interest than in her native country. One of the British magazines even named Gorbacheva a Woman of the Year in 1987.
In addition to helping her husband, Raisa Maksimovna was engaged in charity, considering it a direct duty of the first lady. She participated in the activities of the international fund to support children with leukemia. Also she did not forget about culture. Raisa Maksimovna helped to create the Soviet cultural foundation. The Museum of Marina Tsvetaeva, the Roerich Museum, and the Petrodvorets Museum of the Benois family worked with the support of the foundation. Moreover, Raisa Maksimovna achieved the restoration of many monuments of architecture and church buildings.
When Mikhail Gorbachev left the presidential post, Raisa helped her husband write books, checking background information and necessary facts. Also, together with her husband, she opened the Gorbachev Foundation, which was engaged in sociology and political science. In 1991, the woman wrote an autobiography, entitled I Hope.
Gorbacheva won a number of public awards, and was an honorary professor at universities in Europe, America, and Asia.
In 1997 she founded and headed Raisa Maksimovna Club, which helped children’s hospitals, provincial teachers and teachers working with “difficult children”.
Raisa Gorbacheva died on September 20, 1999 in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Thousands of people came to say goodbye to this strong woman on September 23 in Moscow.
On June 16, 2009 Mikhail Gorbachev released the CD Songs for Raisa, dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the death of Raisa Maksimovna.