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Mikhail Gorbachev who changed the world 20 years ago is 80
March 2, 2011 16:13

Mikhail Gorbachev, the First and the Last President of the USSR is celebrating his 80th anniversary today, on the March, 2 in Moscow. This person is associated with the end of the Cold War and fall of the Soviet Union. Today Gorbachev is congratulated with such a big date. Among the people congratulating him today are USA ex-president George Bush the Elder and British diplomat John Matlock, worked as ambassador in Moscow that time. But Russian public seems to forget him. Attitude to this person in Russia is still ambivalent.

It is still not clear if Gorbachev, who laid a course for glasnost and democratization in all spheres of life in 1986 - 1987 really influenced breakdown of Soviet Empire. More than half respondents of poll carried out by The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center believe that Soviet Union would fall anyway, regardless of the leader. The rest believes that everything what happened with Soviet Union in 1985 - 1991 is result of Gorbachev's work. Some of them damn him, because years of chaos followed Perestroika, others suppose he savior released peoples of the Soviet Union from the malicious regime. However, such key words of the epoch like Perestroika and Glasnost are tied with Gorbachev and nobody else, and that indicates he was taking part in the process.

Anyway, Gorbachev's name is associated with an epoch of great changes in the world politics and even culture. To great for one person. The Fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunion of Germany and withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan occurred during the reign of Mikhail Gorbachev. The agreement signed in Paris in 1990 by the head of the USSR and presidents and prime ministers of European countries as well as Canada and the USA put the end to the period known as the Cold War. It is ridiculous, but he did not plan to do all of this. He wanted to democratize the Socialism, but not to break the regime. But the History ordered other wise. All these changes happened without using violence by the state, and it is Gorbachev's achievement. The violence began in Russian society and in all the ex-soviet republics regardless to his opinion about violence.

The western society, including journalists and scientists estimate Gorbachev's activity in the positive key only. Among Gorbachev's achievements democratic elections are usually mentioned. Transforming political system, he introduced Democratic and Free elections, where the people could make a choice and candidates from Communist party could lose. Yes, he did. But Democratic and Free Elections are unfortunately more a theoretical construction than reality, especially the Russian one, and not only Russian. Elections in the Soviet Union were more a formality than elections: the people voted for candidates known in advance. The people had no choice. Votes of the first half of 90-s were really free and unpredictable. Later elections remained democratic, there are many candidates and the people can vote for anyone they want, but it seems like only required person wins. Or the people do like in old good Soviet times.

Anyway, we can join the people who wishes to Mikhail Gorbachev many happy returns of the day. He is one of the key figures of time which is slowly becoming history.


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