Mikhail Gorbachev was born in March 1931 in Stavropol, the North Caucasus to a poor peasant family. His wife is Raisa Maxima .Mikhail Gorbachev was general secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party from 1985–1991. Gorbachev was also the first democratically elected President in 1990. He played a key role in dismantling the Communist grip on power in both the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. His aspirations for democracy and reform opened up the way for the end of the Cold War and the bringing down of the Berlin Wall. He was removed from Presidential office in 1991, during a failed coup attempt. Since leaving office, Gorbachev has worked tirelessly promoting new efforts at social justice and concern for the environment through his own organization, the Green Cross. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1990 .