es Vienna, August 31, 2022
A famous 20th century dictum has it that “all political careers end in failure”. It was certainly true of the British MP who coined the phrase, the clever, dangerous oddball, Enoch Powell. And perhaps it’s also the case for the more likable statesman, Mikhail Sergeyvic Gorbachev, who died yesterday aged 91 in a Moscow hospital after a long illness.
How well he was remembered, as I remember him, as a real Mensch spontaneously adored by children (not the case for his beloved late wife Raisa I noticed), a man whose genial and generous character survived decades of working under Stalin, and the persecution and torture of his grandparents.
His passing has been marked by dozens of often fascinating obituaries and analyses, of which I will single out that of the Guardian’s Jonathan Steele as especially balanced and observant about the near-intolerable pressures on the last leader of the USSR, not least those of his enemy and eventual successor Boris Yeltsin which eventually closed in, and resulted in Russia’s leadership being handed over to the KGB bureaucrat, thief, and murderer Vladimir Putin.
- Guardian, 31/08/22 Will Putin even arrange a state funeral
- Meduza, 31/08/22 Gorbachev through the years with rare photos
- Vitaly Mansky film Gorbachev.Heaven + Trailer on YouTube. A tender study which also reveals Gorbachev’s love of poetry and his habit of singing while shaving
- Spiegel interview (Eng) on his 80th birthday 15/08/16 “They were truly idiots”
- History.com Memories of Boris Yeltsin’s drunken escapades
- Project Syndicate 30/08/22 philosopher Slavoj Žižek – Ukraine’s Tale of two colonisations