Raisa Maximovna Gorbachova (Russian: Раиса Максимовна Горбачёва, born Titarenko, Титаре́нко (5 January 1932 – 20 September 1999) was a major fundraiser for preservation of the Russian heritage, for new talents' education and for children's blood cancer treatment programs in Russia.
She was the wife of Mikhail Gorbachev and was normally referred to as Raisa Gorbachev.
Raisa Gorbachyova was born in the city of Rubtsovsk in the Altai region of Siberia, 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 years living 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 the Moscow State University. They married in September 1953 and moved to Mikhail'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 to their only child, daughter Irina Mihailovna Virganskaya (Ири́на Миха́йловна Вирга́нская), in 1957.
When her husband returned to Moscow as a rising Soviet Communist Party official, Raisa Gorbachyova took a post of a lecturer at her alma mater, Moscow State University. She left the post when Gorbachev 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. This contributed to mollifying the Western perception of the country as an "Evil Empire" that Ronald Reagan's anti-Soviet discourse had helped solidify.
Raisa 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 Gorbachyovs 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 June 1, 1990, Mrs. Gorbachev 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 Raisa. The political turmoil that followed pushed aside Gorbachevs' life from the headlines. In 1997 she established Raisa Maksimovna's Club, meant to galvanize the participation of women in politics.
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