Gorbachev’s final pain

Mkhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin

Mikhail Gorbachev revealed his dismay at seeing his life’s work ‘destroyed’ by Vladimir Putin to a close friend weeks before his death as Russia descends into authoritarianism and military aggression.

Senior Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov, who was in touch with the veteran politician before he died, said at the end of July the Nobel Peace Prize winner is ‘upset’ that his reforms have been destroyed.

The last Soviet-era leader ended the Cold War with his ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ reforms which led to the collapse of the USSR, the reunification of Germany and liberation of the Eastern European nations and the end of the nuclear confrontation with the West.

While Gorbachev did not speak candidly on the current situation before his death, Venediktov in an interview with Russian Forbes said in July: ‘I can tell you that he is upset. Of course, he understands that […] this was his life’s work.

‘Freedoms were brought by Gorbachev. Everyone forgot who gave freedom to the Russian Orthodox Church? Who was it? Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev.

‘The freedom of press, the first media law, who brought it? Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. Private property? Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev.’

As he spoke, he gestured to show it was all destroyed.

‘So what would [Gorbachev] be able to say now?’ Venediktov said.

‘Gorbachev’s reforms – political, not economic – were all destroyed.’