(CNN) -- Here's a look at the life of Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the former USSR.
Personal: Birth name: Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev
Birth date: March 2, 1931
Birth place: Privolnoye, Soviet Union
Father: Sergei Andreyevich Gorbachev
Mother: Maria Panteleyevna (Gopkalo) Gorbachev
Marriage: Raisa Maximovna (1953 - September 20, 1999, her death)
Children: Irina (1956)
Education: Moscow State University, Faculty of Law (1955), Stavropol Agricultural Institute, Faculty of Economy (1967)
Timeline: 1952 - Joins the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Works in various positions in the party for the next two decades.
1955-1958 - Becomes the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Stavropol Komsomol City Committee.
1963 - Becomes chief of the Agriculture Department in the Stavropol region.
1970-1978 - Named the first secretary for the Communist Party in the Stavropol region.
1970-1990 - Deputy of the Supreme Soviet, the highest legislative body in the Soviet Union.
1971 - Becomes a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
March 11, 1985 - Elected to be the General Secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. In this post, he is effectively the leader of the USSR.
1985-1988 - Participates in a series of summit talks with U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
1987 - Signs the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with the United States to limit nuclear weapons.
1989 - Announces the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan.
1989-1990 - Chairman of the Supreme Soviet.
1990 - Becomes President of the USSR.
1990 - Wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
December 25, 1991 - Resigns as President of the USSR.
1993-present - Founds and is the president of the Green Cross International, an environmental organization.
1996 - Runs for re-election in Russia but receives only 1% of the vote.
November 24, 2001 - Is elected head of the Social Democratic Party of Russia.
February 8, 2004 - Wins a Grammy Award for best spoken word album for children from the Recording Academy for "Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks". He shares the award
with Sophia Loren and former President Bill Clinton.
May 2004 - Resigns from the Social Democratic Party of Russia over conflicts with party direction and leadership.
January 2006 - Along with a business partner, Gorbachev buys 49 percent of shares in the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
August 2007 - Appears in print advertisements for Louis Vuitton leather goods, photos taken by Annie Leibovitz.
October 2007 - Becomes head of a new Russian political movement, Union of Social Democrats.
September 19, 2008 - Receives the 2008 Liberty Medal, awarded each year by the National Constitution Center, which is chaired by former President George H.W. Bush.
November 2009 - Attends ceremonies in Berlin, Germany, marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
March 2, 2011 - On his 80th birthday, Gorbachev is awarded Russia's highest honor, the Order of St. Andrew, by President Dmitry Medvedev.