AFP, published on Tuesday 02 March 2021 at 14:16
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR and one of the architects of the end of the Cold War, celebrated his 90th birthday on Tuesday in quarantine, “tired” of the restrictions due to the coronavirus.
On this occasion, he received messages of congratulations from personalities around the world, from Russian President Vladimir Poutine but also from his American counterpart Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The former Soviet leader is celebrating his 90s in a Russian hospital where he is “for the duration of the pandemic,” said Vladimir Poliakov, spokesperson for the Gorbachev Foundation, stressing that he “is tired of everything. that, like all of us “.
It is expected that Mr. Gorbachev, born in southwestern Russia in 1931, will find friends and relatives during the day by respecting the measures of distancing, or by videoconference, according to the same source.
And he has already received his fair share of compliments.
“You rightly belong to a pleiad of extraordinary people and remarkable statesmen of contemporary times who have significantly influenced the course of national and world history,” Putin said in a statement. message to the former leader.
The current Russian president also praised the “energy and creative potential” of Mikhail Gorbachev who remains involved in a number of educational and humanitarian projects.
– “We weren’t ready” –
During his time in power between 1985 and 1991, Mikhail Gorbtachev carried out important democratic reforms known under the names of “perestroika” (restructuring) and “glasnost” (transparency) which earned him immense popularity in the West.
In 1990, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for “peacefully ending the Cold War”.
But for many Russians, he is ultimately responsible for the breakup of the USSR, which occurred in 1991 after a failed coup by Soviet conservatives against its policy of openness.
Vladimir Poutine, who arrived at the top of the state in 2000, described this event as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century and advocates a policy of return of Russian power on the international scene.
For years, therefore, his relations were complex with Mikhail Gorbachev, who repeatedly criticized Mr. Putin, while saying that he saw in him a chance for a stable development of Russia.
In a congratulatory message, German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her part thanked Mr. Gorbachev for his “personal commitment to the peaceful overcoming of the Cold War and the achievement of German unity”.
“Your important contribution to reunification in freedom will remain as unforgettable in Germany as your constant personal commitment to friendly relations between our two countries,” said Merkel.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he and the British people remained “in admiration of the courage and integrity” that Mr Gorbachev had shown in “bringing the cold war to a peaceful end”.
Sign of a possible change in mentalities, the official Russian daily Rossiïskaïa Gazeta suggested to him on Tuesday that the dismemberment of the Soviet Union was perhaps, ultimately, not the sole fault of Mikhail Gorbachev.
“Gorbachev came too late because it was very difficult to prevent the collapse,” the newspaper said. But Gorbachev also “came too soon because we were not then ready to understand and to concretize what had just been conceived”.