@SweetPeas - It's complicated for me too - but here goes. The Soviet Union had been under Soviet Communist rule for many years. The people had no rights. If they critized the government, they might be sent to Siberia or killed.
In 1985, the leader,Gorbechev, began to let more people speak out about their ideas. He let the newspapers print their own stories, and as time went on, he let all citizens speak freely. He was trying to get rid of Communism and make Russia a democracy. The people were very happy to have this freedom.