Gorbatchev longs for his days in power - and criticises the current one
20 years ago, an attempted coup by hardliners, targeting Mikhail Gorbachev, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The former leader used a news conference devoted to this anniversary last Wednesday to recall these memories - and give his views on the present state of the (former) Union.
To those who thought Mikhail’s political verve had shrunk into that of a Louis Vuitton ambassador (see below), he proved he was still fit for a fight and high in spirit. He dwelled quite a bit on his good old days in power, when he was trying to reform USSR with policies such as perestroika (‘restructuration’) and glasnost (‘transparency’). Yet where Gorbachev proved most transparent is about his frustration with the current leadership, which he held responsible for the ‘backward’ evolution of a Russia - a country, he said, crippled by ‘Soviet-style political monopolies’. How direct his attacks were depends on which account you choose to read: he did say that ‘Russia’s leaders are a worse version of the communist party’ (FT) but still had ‘good words’ for Putin, whose restrictions on political freedom were deemed a needed evil (Moscow Times). But whatever his actual assessment of Russia’s governing tandem, he unambiguously called for a change.
He fell short, however, of conjecturing who had the capacity to pull something out of the (Vuitton) bag - and put Russia back on road to progress.