Former Soviet leader Gorbachev turns 90


Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Gorbachev in a letter published by the Kremlin, hailing him as “one of the most prominent statesmen of the modern age who has significantly influenced the history of our nation and the world.” Putin also praised Gorbachev for continuing to work on international humanitarian projects.

US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the global leaders who congratulated Gorbachev on his birthday.

Speaking in an interview with the Tass news agency on Tuesday, Gorbachev confirmed that the domestic political reforms he had initiated and his efforts to end the Cold War had no alternative.

“I deeply believe that Perestroika was necessary and that we were leading it in the right direction,” he said. “The main domestic achievement was to give freedom to the people and end the totalitarian system. And the most important things on the international scene were the end of the Cold War and the implementation of a radical nuclear weapons cut. “

Gorbachev again regretted the hard coup in August 1991 carried out by the old guard of the Communist Party, which briefly overthrew him and accelerated the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“It was possible to preserve the Soviet Union, naturally in a revived and reformed form that would give the republic broad rights,” Gorbachev told Tass.

Asked if it was still possible to rebuild the Soviet Union, he replied that it was necessary to focus on normalizing ties with former Soviet neighbors and developing regional alliances.

Putin, who vehemently lamented the Soviet collapse as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” avoided Gorbachev’s personal criticism, but was often critical of his policies and held the Soviet leader responsible for too much confidence in the West.

During Putin’s 21-year rule, Russia’s relations with the West fell to the lowest levels since the Cold War due to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Kremlin interference in the 2016 US presidential election, hacking attacks and, most recently, poisoning and imprisonment. Alexei Navalny.

Although Gorbachev received international recognition for helping end the Cold War and initiate liberal reforms that ended the communist monopoly on power, many Russians held him responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union that led to a devastating economic collapse and political turmoil.

In a survey conducted by the Sverdlovsk Center for Opinion Research (WCIOM), 51% of respondents said it did more harm than good to the nation, while 32% said it was roughly the same, 7% said his actions were mostly positive and the rest were undecided. . A national survey of 1,600 was conducted on Sunday and the margin of error was no more than 2.5 percentage points.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or distributed without permission.

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