Reviled by Many Russians, Mikhail Gorbachev Still Has Lots to Say

NY Times:

Reviled by Many Russians, Mikhail Gorbachev Still Has Lots to Say

MOSCOW — In recent months, various prominent public figures, including at least one close associate of President Vladimir V. Putin, have insisted that Russia officially proclaim Mikhail S. Gorbachev a criminal for abetting the collapse of the Soviet Union.Some regularly demand that Mr. Gorbachev be put on trial for the events, not least, as one member of Parliament put it, to expose the operations of a “fifth column” within Russia.
Yet when the organizers of Mr. Gorbachev’s 85th birthday extravaganza in March approached the landmark Hotel Ukraine about a banquet, its owners refused payment after they learned that it was the former leader being honored.

“They said that without Gorbachev they would have ended up as small merchants in the market, criminals dealing in contraband,” said Alexei Venediktov, a close friend and the editor in chief of the radio station Echo of Moscow, the main news outlet for liberal Russians. “They said: ‘Now we are the owners of all this thanks to Gorbachev! Not a kopeck!’”
In an interview, Mr. Gorbachev shrugged off the fact that 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he remains among the most reviled men in Russia. “It is freedom of expression,” he said.

Yet the official line denigrating traditional democracy, combined with the very idea that he should face trial, obviously irks him, so he churns out articles, essays and books about the need to enhance freedom in Russia. His latest effort, called “The New Russia” in English, was released in the United States in late May.

No surprise to this. Gorbachev was not effective in keeping the Soviet Union together. But it has to be realized the elites had so thoroughly looted the economy that the Soviets couldn’t even afford to bring their soldiers home. The West had to help pay for it.

And so now that the former KGB looters are a bit smarter about their looting, they wish they had their empire back so they could loot it again, and resent Gorbachev from letting the house of cards collapse when nothing he could have done would have saved it.

Personally, I never cared for the man. But he was, in effect, the last man out of a collapsing building and not much more.

I still see him as something of a heroic figure for trying to liberalize the Soviet Union, but after reading the article, I realize I don’t really know much about him or what makes him tick. He seems more of a sad example of someone who history has passed by, more than anything else.

I wonder why his port wine stain would disappear?

I am not a fan of Gorbachev. Even though he was less hardcore than most Soviet leaders, he was still as a socialist. He wanted the USSR to adopt social democracy along with Marxism. He is like Bernie Sanders. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up endorsing Sanders. Maybe Putin will put Gorbachev on trial for being part of the Soviet regime.

Im not sure on the details, but heard someone talking about some kind of controversial agreement or decision between Gorbachev and Pope John Paul, I think it was around the time the Berlin wall came down…anyone familiar with what I talking about?

Russians in general have no concept of freedom. It is well and good that Gorbachev is held in contempt because of his fecklessness. It is hard to say if anyone could have been able to save the failed state of the USSR though.

But, Putin is among those Russians who hate Gorbachev for his promotion of freedom. Freedom is not a message that is welcome in the brave, new Russia.

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