3 min read

Special Report: Remembering the Global Impact of Mikhail Gorbachev

Upon his death, the former Russian president remains a deeply polarizing historical figure for his far-reaching impact on the course of world history.
Special Report: Remembering the Global Impact of Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union and for many the man who restored democracy to then-communist-ruled European nations, was saluted Wednesday as a rare leader who changed the world and for a time brought hope for peace among the superpowers, reports the Associated Press.

"After decades of brutal political repression, he embraced democratic reforms. He believed in glasnost and perestroika – openness and restructuring – not as mere slogans, but as the path forward for the people of the Soviet Union after so many years of isolation and deprivation," President Biden said.

Gorbachev mourned as rare world leader but some still bitter (Associated Press)

Excerpt from the Associated Press: But the man who died Tuesday at 91 was also reviled by many countrymen who blamed him for the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union and its diminution as a superpower. The Russian nation that emerged from its Soviet past shrank in size as 15 new nations were created. The loss of pride and power also eventually led to the rise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tried for the past quarter-century to restore Russia to its former glory and beyond. U.S. President Joe Biden praised Gorbachev for being open to democratic changes. Gorbachev won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Cold War. Although Gorbachev was widely feted abroad, he was a pariah at home. Putin acknowledged that Gorbachev had "a deep impact on the course of world history" and that "he led the country during difficult and dramatic changes, amid large-scale foreign policy, economic and social challenges."
Embed from Getty Images

According to CNN, Vladimir Putin will not attend the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Kremlin said Thursday, in a snub of the former Soviet leader with whom the Russian President had a fraught relationship. The Russian President did visit the Central Clinical Hospital to pay his respects to Gorbachev, laying flowers by the coffin.

Putin snubs funeral of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (CNN)

Excerpt from CNN: Gorbachev grew more critical of Putin and his increasingly restrictive regime in recent years, as he traveled the world promoting free speech and democracy as part of his foundation. Meanwhile Putin blamed Gorbachev for the demise of the USSR, which he considers the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century. And while Gorbachev himself did not comment on Putin's decision to invade Ukraine, his foundation called for peace negotiations, saying "there is nothing more precious in the world than human lives."
Embed from Getty Images

In an in-depth commentary for Politico from William Taubman, the author of Gorbachev: His Life and Times, he writes that Mikhail Gorbachev was a decent man — too decent to be the leader of his country, a fact that is more obvious than ever today.

‘Gorbachev Is Hard to Understand’ (Politico)

Excerpt from Politico: He tried to reform the USSR, eventually to democratize it, but was overwhelmed by the people and forces he freed. More than any other world leader, he helped end the Cold War; but he lived to see it replaced by a new one. He went to great lengths to avoid the use of force and violence at home and abroad; his once-removed successor, Vladimir Putin, has relied on repression and violent aggression. Gorbachev was, as the Russian thinker Dmitri Furman wrote, "the only politician in Russian history who, having full power in his hands, voluntarily opted to limit it and even risk losing it, in the name of principled moral values." For that he has been fiercely mocked by critics, mostly Russian, as naïve and hapless. Yet he goes down in history as an icon in much of the West.
Embed from Getty Images

Jump to this week's edition of:
World News
US News - Part 1
US News - Part 2
Special Report