General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – Mikhail Gorbachev
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet – Andrei Gromyko (until 1 October, then Mikhail Gorbachev)
Premier of the Soviet Union – Nikolai Ryzhkov
Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union – Vladimir Terebilov
Procurator General of the USSR – Alexander Rekunkov (until 26 May, then Aleksandr Sukharev)
7 January – The decision by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union to rename the city of Brezhnev to Naberezhnye Chelny is published. This was followed by the decision to remove the names of Leonid Brezhnev and Konstantin Chernenko from the names of all Soviet institutions, streets and inhabited places later that year.
16 January – The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet adopts a Decree on the Establishment of the State Committee for Nature Protection.
18 January – Aeroflot Flight 699 crashes on approach to Krasnovodsk Airport (now Turkmenbashi International Airport), killing eleven people.
12 February – American cruiser USS Yorktown and destroyer USS Caron enter Soviet territorial waters in the Black Sea, where they are bumped by the Soviet frigates Bezzavetny and SKR-6, respectively.
14 February – Fire in the Library of the USSR Academy of Sciences breaks out, destroying approximately 300,000 volumes. 3.5 million volumes become damp due to firefighting foam.
20 February – Council of People's Deputies of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) declares the secession of the oblast from the Azerbaijan SSR, triggering the Nagorno-Karabakh War.
22–23 February – Rallies in Baku and Sumgait under the slogan "NKAO is an integral part of Azerbaijan" take place.
8 March – Aeroflot Flight 3739 is hijacked en route from Irkutsk to Leningrad.
25 March – ASSA art rock event opens in Moscow.
5 April – Pravda publishes the article of Alexander Yakovlev "The Principles of Perestroika: The Revolutionism of Thought and Actions", which criticizes Joseph Stalin and supports perestroika.
29 May – U.S. President Ronald Reagan visits the Soviet Union. The Moscow Summit takes place. The Medium and Short-Range Missile Reduction Treaty is signed, including OTR-23 Oka as a "bonus for American partners".
3 June – The formation of Sąjūdis is announced in Vilnius.
5 June – The celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Christianization of Rus' begins in the Yelokhovo Cathedral.
17 June – Moskovskiye Novosti publishes the information about Katyn massacre, demanding an investigation of the event.
28 June – The 19th Conference of CPSU opens in Moscow.
1 July – At the 19th All-Union Conference of the CPSU Yegor Ligachev utters his famous phrase "Boris, you are wrong".
12 July – The first Soviet beauty pageant is held. The winner becomes Mariya Kalinina.
26 July – The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet posthumously restores Nikolay Kuznetsov in the rank of the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, which he lost under Stalin.
5 September – The first AIDS case in the Soviet Union kills a 29-year-old woman Olga G.
1 October – Andrei Gromyko retires from the office of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.
7 October – The Russian tricolor is raised openly for the first time in the Soviet Union during a demonstration in Leningrad.
3 October – OMON is created.
16 October – Escrava Isaura premieres in the Soviet Union on the Central Television.
12 November – Large-scale demonstrations and hunger strike began in Tbilisi, the capital of the Georgian SSR, against the Soviet policies.
15 November – Buran spacecraft makes its first and only flight.
The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union adopts the laws "On the Election of People's Deputies" and "On Amendments and Additions to the Constitution of the USSR".
The hijacking of a LAZ-687 bus with schoolchildren takes place in Ordzhonikidze.
7 December – Spitak earthquake kills several thousands people.
30 December – The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union publish the decision to remove the names of Leonid Brezhnev and Konstantin Chernenko from the names of all institutions, streets and inhabited places.
10 November – Natalia Pereverzeva
17 February – Alexander Bashlachev
Little Vera premieres in the Soviet Union.
Many higher education institutes cancel military training departments, which helped students to avoid military draft.
1988 in the Soviet Union Wikipedia
Other events of 1988
Timeline of Soviet history