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Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (Russian: Михаи́л Серге́евич Горбачёв, tr. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachyov; IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil sʲɪrˈɡʲejəvʲɪtɕ ɡərbɐˈtɕof] ( listen); born 2 March 1931) is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the Soviet Union, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991. He was the only general secretary in the history of the Soviet Union to have been born during the Communist rule. Gorbachev was born in Stavropol Krai into a peasant Ukrainian–Russian family, and in his teens operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law. While he was at the university, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and soon became very active within it. In 1970, he was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Kraikom, First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet in 1974, and appointed a member of the Politburo in 1979.