glasnost (gläs´nōst), Soviet cultural and social policy of the late 1980s. Following his ascension to the leadership of the USSR in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev began to promote a policy of openness in public discussions about current and historical problems. The policy was termed glasnost [openness]. The brutality of the Stalin era, such as the great purges and the Katyn massacre, were acknowledged, and the corruption and stagnation of the Brezhnev era were sharply criticized. Soviet leaders became more receptive both to the media and to foreign leaders as a new period of detente opened between East and West. Gorbachev hoped that a candidness about the state of the country would accelerate his perestroika program.
See M. Gorbachev, Perestroika (1988); E. A. Hewett and V. H. Winston, ed., Milestones in Glasnost and Perestroyka (1991).