|First Lady of the Soviet Union|
1 October 1988 – 25 December 1991
|Preceded by||Lydia Gromyko|
|Succeeded by||Title abolished|
|Born||Raisa Maximovna Titarenko
)5 January 1932
Rubtsovsk, Altai Krai, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Died||20 September 1999) (aged 67)
|Spouse(s)||Mikhail Gorbachev (m. 1953–1999; her death); 1 child|
|Children||Irina Mikhailovna Virganskaya|
Raisa Maximovna Gorbacheva (Russian: Раи́са Макси́мовна Горбачёва tr. Raisa Maksimovna Gorbachyova, née Titarenko, Титаре́нко; 5 January 1932 – 20 September 1999) was the wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. She raised funds for the preservation of Russian cultural heritage, for the fostering of new talent, and for treatment programs for children's blood cancer.
Raisa Maximovna Titarenko was born in the city of Rubtsovsk in the Altai region of Siberia. She was the eldest of three children of Maxim Andreyevich Titarenko, a railway engineer originally from Chernihiv, Ukraine, and his Siberian wife, Alexandra Petrovna Porada, originally from Veseloyarsk. She spent her childhood in the Ural Mountains region, and met her future husband while studying philosophy in Moscow. She earned an advanced degree at the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute, and taught briefly at Moscow State University.
They married in September 1953 and moved to her husband's home region of Stavropol in southern Russia upon graduation. There, she taught Marxist–Leninist philosophy and defended her sociology research thesis about kolkhoz life. She gave birth in 1958 to their only child, daughter Irina Mikhailovna (married name: Virganskaya; Ири́на Миха́йловна Вирга́нская). When her husband returned to Moscow as a rising Soviet Communist Party official, Gorbacheva took a post of a lecturer at her alma mater, Moscow State University. She left the post when her husband became a leader of the Soviet Union in 1985. Her public appearances beside her husband as First Lady were a novelty at home and went a long way in humanizing the country's image. Her dynamic personality and style caught the attention of Western media and observers.
She made a $100,000 contribution to the charity "From hematologists of the world to children" when Prof. Rumiantsev and others addressed her in 1989. This and further donations raised by Gorbachevs helped to buy equipment for blood banks and to train Russian doctors abroad. As a result, country-wide children's leukemia survival rates have since improved (Transcripts 2000).
On 1 June 1990, Gorbacheva accompanied U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush to Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Both women spoke before the graduating class during the commencement service, touching upon the role of women in modern society. Their addresses were covered on live television by all of the American broadcast networks. The CNN cable network provided live television coverage of their speeches around the world. The events of the Soviet Coup of 1991 left a scar on Gorbacheva. The political turmoil that followed pushed aside the Gorbachevs' life from the headlines.
In 1997, Gorbacheva established Raisa Maksimovna's Club, meant to galvanize the participation of women in politics. She was also supportive of soft diplomacy and welcomed youth delegations to the Kremlin. Raisa worked to raise awareness of children's issues and frequently welcomed youth delegations to the Kremlin when her husband could not be present. In 1989, she received a famous painting from all of the children in the world from Youth Ambassador to the Former Soviet Union Elizabeth Bissell Miller.
In 2006, her family founded the Raisa Gorbacheva foundation that aims at reducing childhood cancer.
Health and death
Gorbacheva suffered a stroke in October 1993. She was diagnosed with leukemia and died on 20 September 1999 at Münster University hospital in Germany, aged 67. Her body was interred at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.
- Gorbachyova, Raisa Maksimovna (1991). Ya nadejus'... Novosti.
- Raisa. Vospominaniya, dnevniki, interview, statyi, telegrammy. Moscow: Vagrius Petro-News. 2000.
- Watson, Robert P. (1 September 2000). The Presidents' Wives: Reassessing the Office of First Lady. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-1-55587-948-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "The Gorbachev Files: Secret Papers Reveal Truth Behind Soviet Collapse". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- "Combatting Childhood Cancer". RG Foundation. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Schmemann, Serge (3 November 1993). "Gorbachev, Energetic, Chatty, but Not Yet Political". The New York Times. p. 3.