Berlin (AP) — Mikhail GorbachevThe last leader of the Soviet Union, to many who restored democracy to the then communist-ruled European countries, he changed the world on Wednesday and, for a while, created peace among superpowers. He was praised as a rare leader who brought hope to
But the man who died Tuesday at the age of 91 He was also vilified by many of the public who blamed him for the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and its decline as a superpower. Emerging from the Soviet past, the Russian state shrank in size as 15 new states were created.
The loss of pride and power eventually led to the rise of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well. For the past quarter century, Putin has been trying to restore Russia to its former glory and the glory to come.
US President Joe Biden praised Gorbachev for being open to democratic change.Gorbachev In 1990, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the end of the Cold War.
“After decades of brutal political repression, he embraced democratic reforms. He believed it was the way forward for the people of the Soviet Union after isolation and deprivation.
“These are the actions of rare leaders, leaders with the imagination to see that a different future is possible, and the courage to risk their entire careers to achieve it,” Biden said. has resulted in a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people.”
Gorbachev was widely celebrated abroad, but at home he was an outcast.Putin recognized Gorbachev “It had a profound impact on the course of world history.”
In a short telegram expressing condolences to Mr Gorbachev’s family, Putin said, “He is leading the country through difficult and dramatic changes, in the midst of large-scale foreign policy, economic and social challenges. He said.
Gorbachev “realized the need for reform and tried to present his solution to a serious problem,” Putin said.
Reactions from Russian officials and lawmakers were mixed. They praised Gorbachev for his role in ending the Cold War, but blamed him for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Oleg Morozov, a member of the Kremlin’s main political party, United Russia, said Gorbachev should have “repented” of his wrongdoing against Russia’s national interests.
“He was a deliberate or unwilling co-creator of the unfair world order our soldiers are currently fighting on the battlefield,” Morozov said, referring to Russia’s current war in Ukraine. I got
Lev Walesa, leader of Poland’s solidarity movement for democracy in the 1980s and president of the country from 1990 to 1995, took a more nuanced view of Gorbachev. He said he “admired him and even liked him, but he didn’t understand.”
“To the end he believed that communism could be reformed, but I, on the contrary, did not believe it was possible,” Walesa told the Wirtualna Polska media.
Walesa added: And he succeeded there. “
World leaders paid tribute to what they described as a great and brave leader.
In Germany, where Gorbachev is considered one of the fathers of the 1990 reunification and is commonly referred to as ‘Gorbi’, former Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed him as a ‘unique global politician’.
“Gorbachev wrote World History. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, she recalled how she feared Russian tanks would invade East Germany, where she lived. said.
Current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised Gorbachev for paving the way for his country’s reunification, but also noted that Gorbachev died when much of his work was destroyed.
“He died not only because of the failure of Russian democracy, there is no other way to explain the current situation, but also because Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin have drawn new trenches in Europe and are fearful. We know he died when he started the war, our neighbor, Ukraine,” Scholz said.
Resigning British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “(Gorbachev’s) tireless efforts to open up Soviet society in the era of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine remain an example for all of us.” .
French President Emmanuel Macron described Gorbachev as “a man of peace whose choice paved the way to freedom for the Russian people. His commitment to peace in Europe changed our common history.”
Others in Europe disputed Gorbachev’s positive memory.
Lithuanian diplomat Gabrielius Landsbergis, son of Vytautas Landsbergis, who led the Lithuanian independence movement in the early 1990s, tweeted: “Lithuanians will not admire Gorbachev.”
Memories still remain on January 13, 1991, when hundreds of Lithuanians made their way to the TV tower in Vilnius to oppose Soviet forces deployed to crush the country’s attempt to regain its independence. new. 14 civilians were killed and more than 140 injured in the ensuing clashes. In August of the same year, Moscow recognized Lithuania’s independence.
“We will never forget the simple fact that his forces killed civilians and prolonged his regime’s occupation of our country. crushed under his tank, that’s how we remember him,” writes Landsbergis.
But another Baltic leader, Latvian President Egils Levits, said Gorbachev’s policies allowed the Baltics to finally become independent.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called Gorbachev “the one and only politician who changed the course of history” and “did more than any other person to bring about a peaceful end to the Cold War.” ’ he called.
“The world has lost a towering global leader, a multilateralist and a tireless defender of peace.
Gorbachev’s contemporaries cited the end of the Cold War as one of his achievements.
“Mikhail Gorbachev played a key role in ending the Cold War peacefully. but not in the way he intended.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has called Gorbachev “a brave leader and a great statesman”, and the last Soviet leader “due to the wave of Jewish immigration to Israel in the 1990s, the gates of the Soviet Union opened,” he said.
In Asia, Gorbachev was remembered as a leader who had the courage to bring about change.
China acknowledged Gorbachev’s role in mending relations between Moscow and Beijing. Gorbachev inspired Chinese reform thinkers in his late 1980s, and his visit to Beijing in 1989 marked a watershed in relations between the two sides.
“Mr. Gorbachev made a positive contribution to the normalization of relations between China and the Soviet Union. We mourn his death and extend our condolences to his family,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. said.
But Chinese Communist Party leaders see Gorbachev’s liberal approach as a deadly sign of weakness, and his move toward peaceful coexistence with the West as a form of surrender. .
Patrick Quinn reports from Bangkok. His AP journalists around the world contributed to this report.
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