Breaking news
Small rise in bond prices -
She stabbed her partner during lovemaking in a field -
Death of 16-year-old: Parents donate his organs -
The new Ford Focus is available again (+ prices) -
“Big hours” by Andreas Katsigiannis -
AEL: With defensive strengthening – Super Sport FM -
Small rise for bond prices -

Gorbachev: How his death will become Putin’s “weapon”.

The assessment that Vladimir Putin will seek to exploit the death of Mikhail Gorbachev is made by Bloomberg columnist Clara Ferreira Marquez.

The columnist initially notes in her text that Gorbachev hoped for the best, but ended up with the worst. The legacy of the last Soviet leader, who died on August 30 at the age of 91, has been largely nullified by two decades with Vladimir Putin, Marques argues. Now, an exterminating war in Ukraine is his grim and bloody requiem, he writes characteristically.

“Aversion to violence”

Gorbachev had an aversion to violence, Marques notes, a desire to work within the system, a curiosity about the West born of state-sponsored foreign travel, and high ideals.

All this, combined with ill-conceived economic reforms, eventually led to his downfall. When Gorbachev left power in 1991, he called on Russians to preserve the democratic freedoms he had introduced. But the chaos he left in his wake instead allowed a kleptocracy to take root, which will now use his death as a weapon, Marquez believes.

Gorbachev, a complex and flawed man, has long been something of a political Rorschach test, notes the Bloomberg columnist. For many, especially outside Russia, he is the reformer with whom the West found they could “cooperate”, in the phrase of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the politician who brought an end to the Cold War.

Few expected this turn of events when he came to power in 1985, at the young age of 54, a party man who turned out to be more like a Western politician than any of the gray figures who preceded him, Marques points out.

For many in the former Soviet states, he was the leader who allowed history on a dramatic scale to happen peacefully. Tore down the Wall.

Putin’s view of Gorbachev

And yet, to hard-liners and those connected to the security services, as President Vladimir Putin was and remains, Gorbachev was the man responsible for the loss of an empire. It brought national humiliation to a great nation and caused what the current occupant of the Kremlin once described as “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the century.” The dissolution of “historical Russia” leaving millions of Russians in new independent states. “Everything that had been built for 1,000 years was largely lost,” Putin said in a documentary aired last year.

Putin saw weakness

Few episodes are as important to understanding Putin’s political vision – and his current war of conquest in Ukraine – as that collapse, and his experience of that collapse as a young KGB agent in Dresden, Marques points out. Others may have seen the prospect of freedom during the perestroika years, Putin saw weakness. “I had the feeling then that the country no longer existed,” Marques later wrote. “That he had disappeared.”

All of this leaves the Kremlin in a difficult position regarding Gorbachev’s death. It is a reminder of that humiliation and collapse that led to the economically desperate, undignified 1990s. Worse, its name bears faint remnants of a time when there were hopes for freedom, openness and reform.

Although few listened to the end, the former Soviet leader was disturbingly vocal in his criticism of the Kremlin’s hardening influence, which he argued came at an increasing cost. He pointed out in 2017 that Russia could not fix the stagnation without a change of government. His reformist perestroika policies, he wrote in a reflective essay last year, were a humanitarian project that relied on individual initiative and broke with autocracy. “This is what makes perestroika relevant today – any other option can only lead our country to a dead end.”

How will the Russian president act?

For Putin today, all this can be – and no doubt will be – easily brushed aside in the official memorials and tributes, because Gorbachev, though hardly popular with everyone, was the last outstanding link to the Soviet Union, a political man of rare prestige, emphasizes Marques. And in the complicated way Russian politics works, he arguably shared Putin’s vision of a Russia-orbiting Ukraine, although he did not support the war. His criticisms will be overlooked, his specifics will be glossed over.

Like Soviet leaders before him, Putin understands all too well that political deaths and funerals are not about the dead at all. They are about grandeur and a unique opportunity to retell history and display power. Gorbachev, after all, came to the fore for much of the outside world at the funeral of his predecessor, Konstantin Chernenko, delivering a eulogy that said more about his priorities – to lift Russia out of economic stagnation – than those of his deceased.

In Moscow – as, indeed, in Beijing, where the Communist Party has long been trying to learn from the mistakes of perestroika – this will not be an opportunity to reflect on the fact that the secrecy and rigidity of the Soviet system was, ultimately, his downfall. This will not be an occasion to reflect on what might have happened if democracy had taken root or if Gorbachev had moved more slowly.

The time will come…

There will be a time when his failures in the eyes of the Kremlin – say, his decision to largely avoid violence in the Soviet states, the weakness that even allowed Russia to secede – will be used to justify empire-building actions today . These mistakes, Putin will say, cannot be repeated.

But many more Gorbachev-era events with awkward contemporary resonance will be glossed over – such as opposition to the war in Afghanistan, the social cost of excessive military spending or economic shortfalls – in favor of a focus on Soviet nostalgia. Putin, who promotes a vaguely Soviet-inspired national mythology, needs a distraction from the Kiev counteroffensive his forces are now facing.


The article is in Greek

Tags: Gorbachev death Putins weapon

PREV Tiafoe 1-2: Victory for the American and the Laver Cup went to Team World for the first time
NEXT Stefanos Duskos is sixth in the world