Remembering Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev: March 2, 1931 – August 30, 2022 

At age-91, the ravages of time took Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Soviet Russia’s last leader.

He once said that “(v)ery little good could be achieved” under the old way. 

“Therefore, the system had to be changed.”

For some time, his deteriorated health required round-the-clock medical supervision at Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Kidney failure required dialysis, and reportedly he underwent blood purification at times.

On Tuesday, August 30, a hospital statement said the following:

“Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev died this evening after a serious and long illness.”

Straightaway after taking office in 1985, he announced a new course, a break from the nation’s past by a constitutional provision to cancel the Communist Party’s administering role and establishing the office of the presidency.

Since then, the President of the Soviet Union — followed by the establishment of the Russian Federation after its yearend 1991 dissolution — replaced the offices of Communist Party General Secretary and Soviet Union Chairman.

Known as the father of perestroika and glasnost, the former involved reconstruction of the nation politically and economically.

Openness to include greater individual freedoms defined the latter. 

On January 1, 1990, Time magazine named him “Man of the Decade.”

In his 2016 memoirs, he said the following:

“Change is rarely painless.”

“It affects people’s lives and interests, and that is why we need to do everything possible to mitigate painful consequences.”

“There should be no attempt to go for a ‘big bang’ at the outset.”

When awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1990, an address to the Nobel Committee on his behalf by the nation’s First Deputy Foreign Minister, Andrei Kovaljov, said the following in part:

“Immanuel Kant prophesied that mankind would one day be faced with a dilemma.”

Humanity would “either be joined in a true union of nations or (would) perish in a war of annihilation, ending in the extinction of the human race.” 

“Now, as we move from the second to the third millennium, the clock has struck the moment of truth.”

At the time, Gorbachev said the following:

“I could not imagine how immense were our problems and difficulties.” 

“I believe no one at that time could foresee or predict them.”

In 1992, he established the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, known as the Gorbachev Foundation — a year later, Green Cross International, an environmental organization.

In 1999, his wife, Raisa, succumbed to leukemia.

In his memoirs, he said the following:

“We were bound first by our marriage, but also our common views of life.”

“We both preached the principle of equality.” 

During Russia’s lost 1990s decade, Gorbachev was a sharp critic of Boris Yeltsin’s adoption of US shock therapy.

It impoverished most Russians and created a long-lasting underclass by economic genocide from neoliberal harshness, while Western interests and an oligarch class benefitted greatly at the expense of the general welfare.

In sharp contrast, Gorbachev’s leading role in transforming the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation’s maturation under Vladimir Putin earned the father of perestroika and glasnost recognition as one of the most significant and influential statesmen of the 20th century.

Asked, in March 2021, what he considered his most significant achievement, he said the following:

“Perestroika, of course, and everything that goes with it,” adding:

“It is my profound conviction that perestroika was necessary, and that we were moving in the right direction.”

“Our greatest achievement inside the country was that people gained freedom (with the) end the totalitarian system.”

“And in foreign policy, the main achievement was the end of the Cold War and drastic nuclear arms cuts.”

He “mad(e) fundamental decisions in (his) life and in politics,” stressing: 

He “would not change any of them.”

Knowing he was “criticized for being too trusting,” he added:

“(I)f (he) had no trust in the people, perestroika would have never begun.” 

Also “scolded for glasnost,” he said that without it, “nothing would have changed in the country,” adding:

“Without political reform, any attempts at reforming the economy would have sunk in the quicksand of bureaucracy.”

“It happened that way in our history and it would have happened again.” 

“Our country needed a gradual market reform, not shock therapy.” 

“But, in the 1990s, radicals gained the upper hand.”

“Russia and its citizens paid dearly for this.”

Over time, “changes are (always) necessary (to steer) the country towards a normal, decent life for all people.”

According to the Gorbachev Foundation, he was the recipient of over 300 awards, other distinctions, and wrote 38 books, published in multiple languages.

In what the Gorbachev Foundation called his political article of faith, he said:

“I was doing my best in bringing together morality and responsibility to people.”

“It’s a matter of principle for me.”

“It was high time to put an end to the rulers’ wild cravings and to their highhandedness.”

“There were a few things I have not succeeded in, but I don’t think I was wrong in my approach.”

Two days after Russia’s liberating SMO began in Ukraine, a Gorbachev Foundation statement said the following:

“In connection (to what began) on February 24, we affirm the need for an early cessation of hostilities and immediate start of peace negotiations.”

“There is nothing more precious in the world than human lives.” 

“Negotiations and dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and recognition of interests are the only possible way to resolve the most acute contradictions and problems.” 

“We support any efforts aimed at the resumption of negotiating process.”

In response to Gorbachev’s death, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the following:

“Vladimir Putin expresses his deepest condolences over the death of Mikhail Gorbachev.”

“In the morning he will send a telegram with condolences to the relatives and friends.”

On nuclear madness, Gorbachev said the following in October 2018:

Urging sharp reductions in Russian and US nuclear arsenals, “(t)here are still too many nuclear weapons in the world,” he stressed, adding:

Trump’s intent “to release the US from any obligations, any constraints, and not just regarding nuclear missiles” is nuclear madness, adding:

“The US (effectively) destroy(ed) the entire system of international treaties and accords that served as the underlying foundation for peace and security following World War II.”

“There will be no winner in a ‘war of all against all’ — particularly if it ends in a nuclear war.” 

“And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out.”

“An unrelenting arms race, international tensions, hostility and universal mistrust, will only increase the risk.”

Separately in an article, titled “The Madness of Nuclear Deterence,” he said:

“(T)he need (is) urgent…for strategic engagement between the US and Russia.”

“I am also convinced that nuclear deterrence, instead of protecting the world, is keeping it in constant jeopardy,” adding:

“(N)uclear weapons are like a rifle hanging on the wall in a play written and staged by a person unknown.”

“We do not know the playwright’s intent.” 

They “could go off because of a technical failure, human error or computer error.”

“The last alarms me the most.”

“Computer systems are now used everywhere.”

“And how many times have (they) failed — in aviation, in industry, in various control systems?”

If US nukes are deployed near the Russian and/or Chinese borders, “leaving less time to detect a false alarm, the probability of a mistaken retaliatory launch is bound to rise,” Gorbachev stressed, adding:

“Today, the US and Russia are at a perilous crossroads.”

“They must stop and think.”

“The veterans of the Cold War have spoken.”

“It is now up to our nations’ leaders to act.”

The alternative risks nuclear armageddon.

A Postscript

En route to the White House to meet with Ronald Reagan on December 11, 1987, Gorbachev stopped his motorcade.

Exiting his vehicle, he went out of his way to mingle briefly with ordinary Americans in the nation’s capital at one of the city’s busiest intersections: Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW.

Extending his hand in friendship to a woman lined up with many others along the route to the White House, he shook her hand and said:

“Hello, I’m glad to be in America.”

“I’m glad to be friends with all of you.”

Another woman in crowd marveled at his gesture, saying the following:

“The guy is a PR genius.”

I remember the moment with fondness and respect for Russia’s transformational figure.

He now belongs to the ages.


2 thoughts on “Remembering Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev: March 2, 1931 – August 30, 2022 

Add yours

  1. Gorbachev’s biggest mistake was to believe NATO’s words that it would not move an inch eastward. It’s now moving into Asia.

    Mystery Babylon’s forever aim is to bleed then dismember every nation, especially Russia, not under its control.

    Liked by 1 person

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