Tag: Gorbachev

Плохие дни для Мр. Путина: A Week of Prize Winning Russians (Borscht Report #10)


As international recognition of Russia goes, this hasn’t been a fun week for Vladimir Putin. News that the Kremlin had decided to reimpose lockdowns and the President’s own admission that the country could be hurt by a gas crisis was overshadowed only by two things: Dmirty Muratov winning the Nobel Peace Prize and Alexei Navalny being awarded the Sakharov Prize. Neither man is a friend of the regime, to say the least, and winning such prominent awards bolsters Muratov’s international profile, keeps Navalny on Western minds, and gives much-needed succor to the pro-democracy opposition movement in the country.

Anyone that follows Russia will be familiar with Navalny, but I think it’s worth doing something of a deep (or at least not quite shallow) dive on Muratov, as he represents a branch of the opposition less recognized than political and movement leaders outside of the country. 

Essential to understanding Muratov is understanding the outfit he works for, Новая газета/Novaya Gazeta, lit. New Gazette. Founded in part with the monetary prize from Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1990 Nobel Prize win, the newspaper put out its first edition on the 1st of April, 1993. Many of the journalists were drawn from Komsomolskaya Pravda (one of the official news arms of the Komsomol, the youth wing of the Soviet Communist Party, which is now a tabloid), and were excited for the opportunity to do uncensored journalism for a non-state entity. The newspaper did everything but endear itself to Vladimir Putin from the start; in 2001, it became embroiled in a fierce legal battle for accusing a member of his inner circle, Sergei Pugachev, of corruption. Although the organization he represented was eventually forced to withdraw its claim for compensation because the extent of the corruption was revealed, by materials the organization’s own lawsuit, to be much worse than previously thought, the pattern repeated itself. 

34 Years Ago Today: Politburo Selects Gorbachev as Soviet Leader


Thirty-four years ago today, the revolving door that had become the entry point to leadership of the Soviet Union stopped when Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party. On that day, he became the fourth Soviet leader in under three years (Brezhnev died in November 1982, Andropov in February of 1984, Chernenko on March 10, 1985). There hadn’t been such drama on the world leadership front since, well, the dramatic and unexpected selection of KarolJózef Wojtyła as Pope in 1978, after the 33-day tenure of Albino Luciani.

A little over six-and-a-half years later, on Christmas Day 1991, and severely compromised as the result of a coup a few months earlier, Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, resigned and handed over what was left of his power to new Russian President Boris Yeltsin. On December 26, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved and its Republics were handed their self-governance.

From news reports (one from the BBC, and one from ABC), it appears that, thirty-four years ago today, no-one saw this coming. Well, except, maybe, Maggie (perhaps it was womanly intuition) who said shortly thereafter, “I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together.” By and large, a more perceptive and much more pragmatic observation than that George Bush the younger made years later about his sense of Vladimir Putin’s “soul.”

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A Conversation with Former Secretary of State George Shultz


In this wide ranging interview, Secretary Shultz talks about his time in the Reagan White House, from negotiations with Andrey Gromyko to the meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik. It’s a fascinating recount of the Reagan years through Shultz’s eyes, ending with what he believes are important characteristics for any future president and leader to have.

The Day That Reagan Died


90265714_1It was June 5th, 2004. I had been in the Republic of Georgia for less than a month when I heard that Reagan had died. Reagan had meant a lot to me over the years, and I’d followed his political career since I was eight years old.  Growing up with the Reagan administration made the 40th president my childhood hero.

What I did not expect was how the Georgian people would react. As I was walking in the bazaar of a small provincial town, a man saw me, quickly crossed the dusty street, took my hand and said, “I am so sorry. Your great man died today. I am so sorry.”

I asked him, “Do you mean President Reagan?”