Gu Shi | Accompanied by Loneliness: Gorbachev's Political Life

The son of peasants in mountains of North Caucasus, spent his childhood in a turbulent war, became youngest general secretary for political ecology of Soviet Union, did not save him from fate of collapse of Soviet Union, and Putin even criticized him as "the biggest criminal in history of Russia."

The politician considered by Western countries to be a hero who ended Cold War, but a controversial one in China, is Gorbachev, who went down in history as "the last leader of Soviet Union."

August 30, 2022, 91-year-old Gorbachev died from a long serious illness. Condolences were expressed by both President Putin and UN Secretary General Guterres.


When Gorbachev was supreme leader of Soviet Union, there was this joke:

The queue for vodka stretched for more than a kilometer, people scolded authorities, and most of all they scolded General Secretary of CPSU Central Committee.

One of them went completely crazy and shouted: "I'll go to Kremlin now to kill him."

"Okay, let's go!" The people in line giggled.

The man went straight to Kremlin. An hour later he returned. The line moved a little, but it was still a long way to store.

"So you killed him?" people asked him.

"No, there's a queue too!" man replied.

This joke clearly demonstrates dissatisfaction of masses at bottom of Soviet Union with Gorbachev's "New Course" of mid-1980s.

The anti-alcohol campaign was one of Goist's first political initiatives when he came to power.

Gu Shi | Accompanied by Loneliness: Gorbachev's Political Life

In his memoirs, he wrote: "The habit of alcoholism was deeply rooted. At that time, (Soviet) party and state bodies received a large number of letters, mainly from these wives and mothers. Writers and doctors also made up same voice, requiring a ban on alcohol.

After discussion, Politburo decided not to impose a ban on alcohol for time being, but to gradually reduce production of alcoholic beverages with a high alcohol content.

This policy has caused confusion, boredom and even anger among drinkers.

"The decision itself was dictated by social reality and a sense of responsibility, but as soon as it was implemented, situation plunged into chaos, and good intentions came to naught." his memoirs of emotion.

“Good wishes fade away”, in today's words, ideal is very complete, but reality is very skinny.

Gorbachev's mood may also sum up his most brilliant and tragic political life at height of his power.


From 1982 to 1985, in less than three years, Soviet Union lost one after another three general secretaries, three state leaders and some of most important members of Politburo.

These people are old, sick and lifeless, including Brezhnev, Andropov, Ustinov and others.

“The stagnant and old blood no longer has any vitality,” said Goethe in his memoirs.

Finally, after Chernenko's death on March 10, 1985, Gorbachev, then 54 years old, was promoted to pinnacle of his career. The Soviet Union never had such a young leader.

Andrei Gromyko, speaking on behalf of Politburo, stated this at plenum of Central Committee on nomination of Gorbachev as General Secretary of CPSU:

"He worked first at regional level, then he worked in Central Committee, first he was Central Committee, and then he entered Politburo, supervised work of Secretariat. He worked very well;< /p>

Mikhail Sergeevich has a sharp and deep thinking, can accurately and quickly grasp essence of international events taking place abroad, is able to highlight greatest degree of maturity that words can express, and perseverance;

He will worthily take up post of General Secretary of Central Committee of CPSU. "

Gorbachev recalled that Gromyko's impromptu speech was especially sincere and had a strong emotional impact that touched him deeply. “I have never heard such high praise,” he said.


New offer for beginners. Like his most respected old leader and old friend, former general secretary Andropov, Gorbachev will also fight relentlessly against everything related to Brezhnev Doctrine.

The so-called Brezhnev Doctrine manifested itself in USSR in form of partiality, behind-the-scenes intrigues, strife, corruption, careless laxity and heavy bureaucracy.

The goal of Gorbachev reform was to achieve personal emancipation, transformation of a person from a “cog in a machine”into an active participant in socio-political processes. In other words, citizens with rights and responsibilities should be focus of social modernization.

As for modernization of production, in last few five years, growth rate of Soviet defense spending was 1.5-2 times higher than growth rate of national income.

In his memoirs, he said: "(Defense spending) That terrible Moro god devoured fruits of hard work and ruthlessly robbed us of our production capacity."

Gorj acutely discovered that since 1970s, Soviet Union had been falling further and further behind developed countries. 80% lower than developed countries.%, compared with world standard, productivity of Soviet Union only reached 21% of world standard.

If comprehensive reforms are not implemented, decline of Soviet Union may be doomed.


With regard to foreign policy, he acknowledged that unless a favorable international environment is created, serious reforms within country cannot be carried out.

“We need to take pressure off,” he said, “from arms race that our country is in, from our involvement in conflicts around world, from remnants of Cold War that stand in way of new world.”

In March 1985, during Chernenko's funeral, Gorbachev, who had not officially taken office, met with several "key figures" in world of that time: US Vice President Bush, US Secretary of State Schure Ze, German Chancellor Kohl, President of France Mitterrand, British Prime Minister Thatcher, and also held talks with then Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.

He conveyed a clear position to Western world: he advocated an end to arms race, offered to freeze nuclear arsenal, Soviet Union stopped further deployment of missiles and significantly reduced nuclear weapons.

And he also decided to meet privately with leaders of Warsaw Pact countries, informing them that Soviet Union expected to respect independence and sovereignty of Allies and would not interfere in their affairs.

These positions and decisionsnot only fundamentally denied previous Brezhnev Doctrine, but also revealed readiness of Soviet Union, led by Gorbachev, to end Cold War.


The mid-1980s was most intense period of Cold War. The leaders of US and Soviet Union did not meet for six years. After entry of Soviet army into Afghanistan, situation around world became more tense. than ever.

At end of 1985, Gorbachev and Reagan met in Geneva, and negotiations and meetings lasted fifteen hours.

At first meeting, both sides were arguing with each other. After meeting, Gorbachev called Reagan "a figure with an extremely conservativeand ideas, a real dinosaur,” and Reagan called Gorbachev “an unbending Bolshevik.”

After negotiations stalled, Reagan invited Gorbachev to a cozy hut near meeting point, where around a crackling fire two leaders put aside their animosity and invited each other to visit their countries.

The next day, they signed a joint statement "Never resort to nuclear war" - an attempt to build a nuclear-free world, known as "Spirit of Geneva".

Gu Shi | Accompanied by Loneliness: Gorbachev's Political Life

In 1987, during their visit to United States, Gorbachev and Reagan signed "Soviet-American Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty," referred to as Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. "

That night, artists from United States and Soviet Union performed outside White House.A red flag with a hammer and sickle was flown at gates of White House.>.

The following year, 1988, was decisive for recognition of Soviet Union in Western world. In February of that year, Gorbachev announced that Soviet Union would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within ten months of 1 May. In May of that year, Reagan visited Soviet Union. In October of same year, German Chancellor Kohl visited him. Gorbachev also considered subsequent reunification of Germany to be masterpiece of his life.


But while outside world thanked Gorbachev, inside country he headed he was blamed for collapse of Soviet system.

In late 1980s, changes in foreign policy of Soviet Union led by him were regarded by a significant part of Russian population as betrayal, betrayal, concession and failure.

The reform has taken off, but does not know where to land. Gorbachev unrealistically promoted ill-conceived reform that eventually led to collapse of Soviet Union.

Looking back, he said, “To this day I regret following things: I was unable to get ship I went to safe harbor; I was not able to carry out reforms to extent that I had planned. I am very disappointed because of scale of responsibility that I bear for Soviet Union and world politics.”

However, at same time, he continued to argue with himself: “It is extremely difficult to reform Soviet society, not to mention excessive militarization and heavy industry of Soviet Union. Indecisive accusations, it all depends on situation. ”

Ultimately, there is still no understanding. He wanted to do a lot, but underestimated scale of financial and economic crisis in country.


December 25, 1991, whole world remembered TV pictures of that day. Gorbachev announced that he would no longer act as president. Prior to this, a presidential system was established in Soviet Union.

With resignation of Gorbachev, he became first and last president of Soviet Union. Because before end of TV speech, Yeltsin, later President of Russian Federation, impatiently ordered Kremlin guards to lower flag of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Gu Shi | Accompanied by Loneliness: Gorbachev's Political Life

In his memoirs, Gorson made no secret of his resentment towards Yeltsin.

Before announcing his resignation, he met with Yeltsin to determine procedures for transfer of power. Early in morning, Yeltsin and his colleagues burst into my office and uncorked whiskey to celebrate victory.

Compared to Gorbachev's naive reform ideals, Yeltsin's desire to integrate into West looks more extreme.

Responding to a question about success or failure of reforms, Gorbachev also accused Yeltsin of "barbaric capitalist politics."

He said, "Rather, reforms were stifled and replaced by strategies aimed at destroying Soviet government, economy and social services, Yeltsin's most barbaric capitalist policies and privatization policies aimed at robbing people and destroying country reckless."


During long remaining years of his falling away from politics, Gorbachev seemed to endlessly explain and refute.

He hopes that others will understand his difficulties and that future generations will confirm his historical value.

In this world, someone listens to his memories, but on certain days and several auditions, it's more lonely to be with him.

He has tried many ways to win over people, including appearing in commercials for Pizza Hut and LV.

In all commercials and videos, he is still supreme leader of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

But what is result of this switch?

The rivers and lakes are still there, but is this man still there? Is history still alive and well?

The answer is up in wind.

During years of loneliness, when he was tormented by illness in last years of his life, Gorbachev still thought about night in city of hot springs under mountains of North Caucasus:

The sky is strewn with stars, and in front of him a fire is blazing with might and main. Andropov, leader of Communist Party of Soviet Union, with whom he is closest and most admired, looks into flames, falling into dreamy meditation.

At that time, Andropov wanted to tell him a lot, but he was always silent. Here is a real intellectual with a bright, heroic, natural personality.

Gorbachev will always remember that songs by Soviet singer Yuri Vizbel were played in tape recorder next to Andropov, which was also Andropov's favorite song. Lyrics sung:

Who needs it? Nobody needs it.

Who cares? Nobody cares.

(Link to this article: "A lonely comrade - Memories of Gorbachev")


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