Raisa Maximovna Gorbachev was one of those women who was widely misunderstood during her lifetime but later hailed as a great personality. Known to the world as Mikhail Gorbachev’s wife, few appreciated her during her lifetime. The fact that she worked tirelessly for the good of her country and generously donated to the common good was largely overlooked by the general public. Rather than that, they mocked her for her fashionable attire and unique demeanor. That she was able to carve out a space for herself and accompany her husband on the majority of visits added to their resentment. Until her time, wives of leaders were largely invisible. Raisa Gorbachev was the first to defy this tradition, and the public reacted angrily. They did not take kindly to her love and support for her husband. That she was unable to win the hearts of her countrymen must have been excruciating; for when letters began to pour in on her deathbed, she stated, “I had to become ill with such a fatal illness and die in order for people to understand me.”
Childhood & Adolescence
Raisa Maximovna Gorbachev was born in Rubtsovsk, Siberia, on 5 January 1932 to Maxim Andreyevich Titarenko and Alexandra Petrovna Parada. Her father was a civil engineer who specialized in railway construction.
The Titarenkos were a family of three. Raisa was the eldest of the three siblings and was inseparable from her younger sister Ludmila. Despite their family’s frequent relocations, the siblings received a typical upbringing.
Raisa spent the majority of her formative years in the Ural Mountains. Throughout this time period, she was required to transfer to numerous schools. Nonetheless, she was always an excellent student.
In 1949, she graduated from secondary school in Sterlitamak, Barshkiria with a gold medal. It entitles her to enroll in any institution of higher learning without having to sit for admissions examinations.
Raisa enrolled at Moscow State University and studied Marxist-Leninist Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy. In 1954, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Moscow State University.
Career of Raisa
Raisa Gorbachev began her career in 1955 as a lecturer at Stavropol Medical Institute’s Philosophy Department and also at Stavropol Agricultural Institute. She was primarily a Marxist-Leninist philosopher.
By this time, she had married Mikhail Gorbachev, who had become the Stavropol Regional Committee’s First Party Secretary.
Along with her teaching responsibilities, Raisa began conducting sociological research. Her thesis examined both the conditions of peasants and collective farming. She distributed questionnaires to thousands of farmers and then conducted live interviews.
To accomplish this, she traveled extensively, gathering a realistic picture of the people’s plight. Mikhail Gorbachev made use of the data she painstakingly gathered to address some local issues. This attracted the central leadership’s attention.
In 1967, Raisa earned a Candidate Degree from the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. It was the equivalent of a doctorate.
The Gorbachevs were repatriated to Moscow in 1978. While Mikhail served as Secretary for Agriculture in the Central Committee, Raisa returned to her alma mater. At Moscow State University, she taught Marxist-Leninist philosophy.
She resigned in April 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. She then devoted herself entirely to the public good, patronizing numerous public and private charities.
Raisa Gorbachev and a few other prominent figures founded the Soviet Cultural Foundation in 1986, which was later renamed the Russian Cultural Foundation.
During her presidency, the Foundation was able to recover over 50,000 priceless objects and works of art that had been removed from the country following the Bolshevik Revolution.
Apart from that, Raisa co-chaired the Aid for Chernobyl Children Fund. Additionally, she was a patron of the Hematologists of the World – For Children and Moscow’s Central Children’s Hospital.
In 1991, when Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the USSR, Raisa considered establishing the Gorbachev Foundation. The foundation began operations in 1992, and Raisa worked tirelessly to ensure its success from the start.
The foundation has conducted research on economic, political, and social problems and processes in Russia since its inception. Raisa founded The Raisa Maksimovna Club in 1997 to promote women’s participation in public life.
Additionally, it aimed to address other social issues such as child homelessness, rising levels of violence in society, and gender inequality. Her daughter Irina M. Virganskaya is now carrying on her mother’s good work.
Significant Works of Raisa
Raisa Gorbachev defied all conventions in establishing her own public profile. By accompanying her husband on all foreign and domestic tours, she not only enhanced Russia’s image in the eyes of the outside world, but also dispelled many of the world’s misgivings about Russia.
Works of Philanthropy
Raisa Gorbachev donated $100,000 to the “International Association of Hematologists of the World for Children” charity in 1989. Additionally, she actively raised additional funds to further the cause. The funds were used to purchase equipment for blood banks and to train Russian physicians.
Awards and Accomplishments
Although she was not well-liked at home, the rest of the world adored Raisa Gorbachev. ‘Woman’s Own’, a British magazine, was the first to recognize her worth. It named her Woman of the Year in 1987.
In 1991, Raisa Gorbachev was also awarded the ‘Women For Peace Prize’ by the well-known international foundation ‘Together for Peace. Additionally, she received the ‘Lady of the Year’ award.
Her family established the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation following her death. Its primary objective is to raise funds to fight childhood cancer.
Personal History and Legacies
On 25 September 1953, Raisa married Mikhail Gorbachev. Both of them were students at Moscow State University at the time. The couple married on 7 November 1953, in the Stromynka Street university hostel; nearly six weeks after the actual event.
In 1958, Raisa gave birth to her only child, Irina Mikhailovna. Raisa was also the grandmother of two granddaughters, Ksenia and Anastasia, and a great granddaughter, Aleksandra.
In July 1999, Raisa was diagnosed with leukemia. She was rushed to the Münster University Hospital in Germany and admitted for treatment. She was placed under the care of Professor Thomas Buechner, a renowned hematologist, at that facility.
She received treatment for approximately two months, but all attempts were unsuccessful. Raisa Gorbachev died in Münster on 20 September 1999, at the age of 67.
On the President of Russia’s order, a government plane was dispatched to Münster to retrieve her body. Raisa Gorbachev was finally laid to rest in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery.
Estimated Net Worth
Raisa is one of the richest Political Wife & listed on most popular Political Wife. According to our analysis, Wikipedia, Forbes & Business Insider, Raisa Gorbacheva net worth is approximately $5 Million.