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Gorbachev’s Vision and Regrets

You may know Mikhail Gorbachev best as the last leader of the Soviet Union, as a critic of the Putin government, or maybe as a Louis Vuitton ad man.  But you probably didn’t know that he can read minds!  At least that’s what he seems to do in his interview with Mary Dejevsky of the Independent, answering questions even before they are asked…

He launched straight into answering a question I hadn’t actually asked – how he reconciled his long-time membership of the Communist Party with his subsequent embrace of democracy. “I’m a democrat ,” he insisted, “a social democrat, I would say.” He had joined the party while still at school, regarding communism as a great current of world thought. He had asked his father whether he should join, and his father – just back from the war – was an old party member, as was his maternal grandfather, and both said yes. He was duly proposed for membership. But, he adds, “I was a different person then”. (…)

Russia, he judges, is still in the throes of democratic transition. “There’s much still undecided, and there’ve been mistakes. I would say we’re half-way along.” And he has praise for Putin’s first presidential term: “I think this was a chapter of our modern history that should be seen extremely positively.”

But there is a sting in the tail. “He should have exploited the stability he established to go further along the path of democratisation,” he goes on. “Instead, they started digging up the history of countries, ours above all… to prove that modernisation succeeds best under dictators, tsars, kings and the like. This was a mistake.”