Goodbye Mr Gorbachev. And Thanks.

He finally passed away yesterday. A willing instrument of history. A Cromwell in his time. The man who ended the Cold War as an act of will but destroyed the Soviet Union without meaning to. Gorbachev can certainly be criticised. People died because he gave in to the loaded advice of the military and the secret police, in Tbilisi and in Vilnius, in order to save his beloved perestroika from destruction, little knowing that they would oust him within months and that a great part of his legacy on his death would in the end lie in tatters.

He was always the engaging politician, to the fingertips. He had unbelievable charm. When his beloved wife was very ill, well after he lost power, he none the less accepted an invitation to Cambridge where we debated everything from top to bottom for three fascinating days. Throughout he was incredibly irritating as he just had to intervene at every point in the discussion to have the last word. As though it still mattered. He could also be childish, disparaging our former ambassador as Mr Former Intelligence Officer (“Gospodin byvshii razvedchik”) and then, to drive home his point, ostentatiously sitting with the former US ambassador in spite.

And he was a complete philistine. When he came to dine in hall, his daughter, mirror image of her beautiful mother, accompanying him as Raisa was by then very ill, called on him to admire the early 19th century neo-Gothic surrounds: “aren’t they lovely, a fairy tale?” she said, her eyes tracing the intricate woodwork and taking in the medieval stained glass windows. “No, not really”, he responded tetchily, marching ahead. The best wine was served, and he kept drinking scotch, relentlessly, throughout the dinner as he answered questions. But not a bad word about Yeltsin, however much I tried. He was always in total control. He rose to his feet for grace at its conclusion as though he had tasted nothing but mineral water.

And the story of his romance with Raisa, how he proposed to her as a student without a penny to his name and married her in someone else’s shoes, is lovingly written up in today’s Komsomol’skaya pravda. Something touching of Russia remains untarnished. Thank God.

31 августа 2022 1:44
Вышла замуж за нищего студента в чужих туфлях: почему история любви Михаила и Раисы Горбачевых доводит до слез
46 лет Михаил Горбачев прожил с Раисой. И ещё 22 года – без нее. И до последнего он не переставал любить жену

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