In the mid-1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev began speaking out against the Soviet Union’s inefficient economic system.  By 1988, Russia announced it would hold its first truly democratic elections since 1917.  Perestroika is the Russian word for political reformation based on “openness.”  In 1990, Gorbachev became the first president of the Soviet Union.  The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and Russia was racing forward with capitalistic enterprise, much of it through joint-ventures with U.S. companies.