Mikhail Gorbachev: 90s hope now in despair

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, August 31: Hope is life, and for that Mikhail Gorbachev staked everything with his perestroika and glasnost. All dreams aren’t meant to be fulfilled, but pursuits define the character of the people.

Mikhail Gorbachev would have been the most talked and commented upon global leader of the last century. His failure set off disintegration of the Soviet Union, which had been an amalgamation of diverse nationalities and cultures by the sheer use of force.

The 1990s was the decade of hope and aspiration.

Mikhail Gorbachev opened the Russian society. The people breathed fresh air of freedom. The liberty to criticize own government for failures swept through the Russian people.

Hope that he allowed and patronized swept through other continents. Berlin Wall fell. Russian war in Afghanistan ended. The world began believing in denuclearization. The Cold War ended.

In his death, the world has lost one of the greatest, possibly the greatest, icon of peace of the last half of the 20th century.

Now that he has departed, the hopes that he had ignited with perestroika and glasnost lie deeply buried in the Russian state.

In Russia, a brutal dictator, who arguably reminds of Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Putin rules with iron fist. Russia is now shut to the world. The western companies have walked out of Russia.

Best brains of Russia are fast moving out. Putin’s war in Ukraine is in the never-ending territory, possibly on the self-destructive path.

Putin is in the company of another autocrat in China, Xi Jinping, who is not only terrorizing the neighbouring countries with the greed for geographical expansion, but trapping vulnerable countries in debt-trap with deep pockets.

Afghanistan that had smelt the fresh air of peace after Gorbachev ended the war there is now in the control of a monster regime led by the Taliban.

Syria and Iraq are under the firm grip of medieval age Islamists.

“…I left the Soviet Union in 1989. The chance to start a new life and live a life of freedom would never have been possible without the courage and leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev,” said Anastasia Byoko, a US-based lawyer, on a social media platform.

While Gorbachev’s bold experiments soon triggered disintegration of the Soviet Union, India too under the watch of PV Narasimha Rao during the same time had begun opening up to the world, after decades of following the text-book closed Soviet economy model.

India after three decades is reaping the benefits. The only difference was that India had been a democratic country even before the country firmly opened the windows to the world in economy.

Gorbachev paid the price of the sins of the past dictators of Soviet Union.

India in contrast reaped the benefits of democratically elected leaders.

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