Thank Gorbachev? You’re welcome | 9/2/2022

9/2/2022

reading time 4 minutes

Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last president of the USSR, wanted to save the Soviet system that he is now credited with destroying. This should be remembered by everyone after his death, when what happened during his leadership is celebrated, as if he himself willed it to happen, writes Boris Stromachin.



Gorbachev was a protégé of Andropov and the ideas of perestroika, democratization and other cosmetic changes were aimed at getting money from the west for modernization.

Entire constitutions then developed this theme – how to create the appearance of liberalizing the Soviet regime without changing its essence and without the communists losing power. But Gorbachev found that even the changes he was prepared to make to that end undermined the system and his own role.

Consequently, Gorbachev was not a “liberator”. He simply did not want or intend to lose power; but he did not understand the country he ruled or the fact that the system he inherited could not be saved with a cosmetic makeover. It could only be destroyed and replaced with something else.

The unintended consequence of his action was the rudder being torn from his hands; and his only merit was that, unlike other communist leaders, he reasoned that life was more valuable than power. So he didn’t go all the way to the bottom, which could have ended with him facing execution like Ceausescu in Romania.

The spirit of Ceausescu after 1989 had to play a significant role not only in what happened in the USSR, but also in the personal fate of Gorbachev. The Soviet leader saw what was happening elsewhere and realized that it was better to advertise pizza than to be shot or hanged.

This decision to save himself brought him the undeserved laurels of liberator, communist dragon slayer, messiah and righteous man. However, Gorbachev never really fully escaped the communist paradigm in which he grew up; he just wasn’t ready to die for them, although it’s important to remember that he was ready to kill for them.

In April 1989, he sent troops to Tbilisi, in January 1990 to Baku, and in January 1991 to Vilnius. In all these cases, people died. Not as many as in Tiananmen Square or as many as would have died under Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev or Andropov if they were in office at the time.

And they died on Gorbachev’s orders. No matter how often Gorbachev denied it, no matter how much he tried to blame the Central Committee, the Politburo, his generals, anyone else, in the Soviet system of power such things could not be approved by anyone but the highest. No one below him would take responsibility for it.

In 2011, when Gorby flew to London to celebrate his 80th birthday in the company of the Queen of England, Vladimir Bukovsky suggested that he be arrested there for trial for his involvement in the massacres of 1989-1991. At that time, almost no one in Russia or abroad supported this idea.

This is most unfortunate. Had he been arrested and convicted, Gorbachev would not have been sent to prison for long. Instead, his punishment would be symbolic. He would be the first living Soviet leader to be convicted of real crimes and not mythical crimes like the collapse of the USSR and treason to communism.

Gorbachev would be found guilty of killing people in an attempt to save the Soviet empire, not destroy it. And that would be important for the future of Russia. While the West was not prepared to arrest him, Gorbachev was reportedly very concerned that the Putin regime would. He knew what the KGB was like and what kind of trial it held.

Now the first Soviet president is dead and will receive praise from much of the world and denunciations from many in Russia who are still angry that he didn’t kill more people and save the Soviet system. The big question in the coming days is not this formula: The big question is who will go to his funeral?

If Putin had not invaded Ukraine, it is likely that many Western leaders would have come or sent high officials as their representatives. It’s less likely to happen now, but the decisions they make will say a lot about whether they understand what Gorbachev was really after – namely saving himself when he couldn’t save his system, rather than being the saintly figure behind many consider him.

Source in Russian: HERE

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The article is in Czech

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