Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev blamed “treachery” for the collapse of the Communist super power, calling what transpired a “crime” and a “coup.” His comments came in an interview with the BBC on the 25th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s collapse, precipitated by his resignation in 1991. Gorbachev indicated he had no choice if he wished to avoid a civil war.
He said, “What happened to the USSR was my drama, and a drama for everyone who lived in the Soviet Union.” The result has been the rise of the “bureaucrats,” he said, who “stole the nation’s riches and began to create corporations.”
He reflected on the summer of 1991 coup by Soviet hardliners opposed to his reforms. It ultimately failed but others he described as radical reformers took advantage of the political instability to force the break up.
Providing insight to the events from his perspective, Gorbachev said, “Behind our backs there was treachery. They were burning down the whole house just to light a cigarette. Just to get power.” Though not intending to do so, to a degree he’s describing the current situation that faces the American people and Donald Trump. We need to remain vigilant that the same consequences don’t find their way to our nation and those similarly under attack in Europe.
They note that Gorbachev had commented earlier this year that it had been his hope to preserve and democratize the Soviet Union from within but he was unable to hold things together in the face what he saw as aspiring officials on both sides who were pushing radical agendas in the interest of advancing their careers. He said, “They couldn’t get it through democratic means so they committed a crime. It was a coup.”
He spoke to the inherent dangers of the breakup, saying, “A split in society and a struggle in a country like ours, overflowing with weapons, including nuclear ones, could have left so many people dead and caused such destruction. I could not let that happen just to cling onto power. Stepping down was my victory.”
Showing what may be a less than enthusiastic level of support for current Russian President Putin, Gorbachev said democratization “hasn’t been completed” and added that, “There are some people for whom freedom is an annoyance. They don’t feel good with it.”
He gave a telling non-answer when asked directly if he was referring to Putin, saying, “You’ll have to guess who I mean. This is one question I’ll leave you to answer.”
Further reinforcing that interpretation, when he was asked if Mr. Putin ever seeks advice from his Soviet era predecessor, Gorbachev responded, “He knows everything already. Everybody likes to do things their own way. C’est la vie.”
Gorbachev also accused the West of “provoking Russia,” and noted that such practices hurt our image there domestically and enhance Mr. Putin’s image among the Russian people. He said with a note of sarcasm, “His popularity rating here has reached 86 percent. Soon, it will be 120 percent!”
He urges that the United States and Russia sit down and resolve their differences in the interest of global stability. It’s something that was not possible under Obama, but he is optimistic about the new Trump presidency.
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