Mikhail Gorbachev has said goodbye to the world while the world is spitting on the monstrous ambitions of Vladimir Putin, who seized Crimea, invaded Ukraine, and left that tiny country in an attempt to reverse the cycle of history, to rebuild the forces of Soviet Russia that fell thirty years ago. Ronald Reagan, the contemporary president of the United States. With his help, this world leader who ended the Cold War and won the Nobel Peace Prize became the owner of the Russian people’s bad breath in the three decades after the dissolution. The vast majority of Russians, who were reveling in past glory, held a grudge against him that their vast, superpowerful country with an area of 172 million square kilometers and eleven time zones was torn apart by this man. Despite his worldwide image as a revolutionary pacifist, Gorbachev suffered humiliation under the regimes of everyone from Boris Yeltsin to the current Putin. Nevertheless, no one in his country could erase the image of Gorbachev as a great leader who changed the direction of world politics, economy, arms race, and put the freedom of the common man at the center. This is their uniqueness and greatness.
Especially in the 500 years after the Russian Revolution, Mikhail Gorbachev became a messenger of peace for the world that experienced the one-party dictatorship, bloody events, and the steel walls of communism. The two words Glasnost and Perestrayka, policies that loosened restrictions on the common man and gave them a chance to breathe in the open air, were his great contribution to the world. Glasnost is a program of transparency, openness, and our right to information, while Perestroika is restructuring at all levels. According to Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s metaphor, glasnost and perestroika mean air and land respectively. It is easier to clean the air than to improve the texture of the soil. These ideas had their roots in Gorbachev’s childhood.
After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, many regions of Eastern Europe and North Asia united under the name of the Soviet Union. The politics of the world were reshuffled. Lenin died before Gorbachev was born. Joseph Stalin, two steps ahead of him, was the new dictator. Born in a peasant family, Mikhail Gorbachev experienced famine in his childhood, the death of two uncles and an aunt, and the torture of two grandfathers in labor camps. After Stalin’s death in 1953, he experienced first-hand the de-Stalinization of Soviet Russia under Nikita Khrushchev as a young communist activist. The prosperity of Soviet Russia in the 1950s and 1960s in all sectors, from industry, infrastructure to space, arose from the exploitation of the common man. The foundation of the progress in science and technology of that superpower challenging America was hollow. The Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident that claimed hundreds of lives was proof of that. Gorbachev admitted that mistake to the world. It was also frankly accepted that the invasion of Afghanistan was a mistake and a war crime.
His efforts for a nuclear disarmament with the US were not entirely successful. Yet those efforts sent a message across the world that stockpiling nuclear weapons to become a superpower was a common deception. It will bring sorrow to the world. Because of Gorbachev, not only Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik and other countries saw the dawn of freedom, but Russia’s market was opened to the world, communism saw globalization and privatization. The process of the world coming together on a burning issue was laid. The toilers started dreaming and happiness was sown in the lives of the middle class as well. Through that, this leader, who was obsessed with freedom and democratic values throughout his life, easily fell out of the limelight of power. Continued giving lectures, writing columns in newspapers. He left the world with an indelible mark of goal-orientedness.