where does gorbachev live today

where does gorbachev live today

where does gorbachev live today

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where does gorbachev live today
where does gorbachev live today

where does gorbachev live today

The man who lost an empire

n 1921, the year before he founded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Vladimir Lenin challenged his fellow Bolsheviks with a rhetorical question:

“Who overtakes whom?” Joseph Stalin preferred a starker version: “Who-whom?”

Both saw politics as a deadly competition in which the winner takes all—war by other means.

So does Vladimir Putin. He looks back at the late 1980s and 1990s with bitterness.

He sees the tumult of that period not just as the collapse of the Soviet Union and a victory for its enemies in the West but a devastating blow to something far more precious.

venerable, and enduring: the Russian state. Under his regime another familiar question looms: “Who is to blame?”

where does gorbachev live now

In Putin’s eyes, the heaviest responsibility falls on the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

who was the prime mover of what Putin has called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century.

Yet instead of denouncing or punishing Gorbachev, Putin has treated him with thinly disguised condescension.

For years Gorbachev traveled abroad to accept honors and honorariums, knowing that, back home, masses of his fellow citizens scorned him.

In 1996, he ran in the presidential election and got half a percent of the vote.

where does mr gorbachev live now

Now eighty-six and in shaky health, Gorbachev lives quietly in a dacha outside Moscow—but not silently. Over the course of a decade.

he gave eight long interviews to William Taubman, a historian at Amherst College.

and his wife Jane, who taught Russian there. The result of Taubman’s research is a masterpiece of narrative scholarship.

It is also the first comprehensive biography of this world-historical figure. Other chronicles of Gorbachev’s life and verdicts on his record will follow.

but they will be without the trove of personal insights that Taubman has gleaned from his access to Gorbachev himself.

his advisers, and other participants in those dramatic years.

where is mikhail gorbachev living today

Taubman notes that his subject’s birth in a peasant village in the North Caucasus coincided, both in time and place.

with the rise of Stalinism—and that his family both resisted that phenomenon and suffered from it. Gorbachev’s grandmothers and mother insisted that he be secretly baptized when he was born in 1931.

in defiance of the draconian suppression of religion that had accompanied communization. He would never know two of his uncles and one aunt who perished in the famine of those years.

and both of his grandfathers were sent to the Gulag during Stalin’s Great Terror.

The book also contains a love story

Gorbachev met Raisa Titarenko at Moscow State University. Their romance was enhanced and sustained by her intelligence.

strong will, firm convictions, and dedication to her ambitious and extroverted husband.

She sacrificed what could have been a successful career as a sociologist in order to help her husband and protect him from his enemies.

but also from his tendency to let his loquaciousness, charm, and self-confidence trip him up. No one influenced him more.

where does gorbachev live today
where does gorbachev live today

Taubman’s previous subject was the life and career of Nikita Khrushchev

a crude, bumptious, erratic, and belligerent character who nonetheless was the only leader of the Soviet Union before Gorbachev to qualify as a reformer.

[1] Khrushchev spent much of his life as one of Stalin’s henchmen, with blood on his hands.

But once the dictator had died and Khrushchev had outmaneuvered his peers in the scramble for succession.

he did his best to “de-Stalinize” the Soviet Union, freeing prisoners from the Gulag and relaxing repression and censorship.

Khrushchev paid a heavy price for his experiments in the liberalization of society

and culture. In 1964, the Presidium (later renamed the Politburo) summoned him back to Moscow from a Black Sea vacation.

fired him, and consigned him to house arrest as a “special pensioner” for the rest of his life.

Gorbachev’s punishment has been watching the renunciation of much of his own legacy, and the restoration of an authoritarian.

predatory regime ruled by a former middle-rank KGB officer whose purposes, methods, and policies are antithetical to those that made Gorbachev a transformative global figure.

Gorbachev, too, had crucial connections with the KGB at the highest level

He probably would never have ascended to power without the patronage of Yuri Andropov, the head of Soviet intelligence for fifteen years before he became party leader in 1982.

Taubman tells us that Andropov met Gorbachev in 1968, soon after he took over the KGB.

where does gorbachev live today
where does gorbachev live today

One of the youngest provincial party chiefs in the USSR, Gorbachev combined a reputation for loyalty with a fertile mind.

pragmatism, and a talent for innovation—qualities that Andropov felt the country sorely needed.

Andropov’s position gave him access to data on the deterioration of Soviet society

The economy was anemic, the governing structures were rigid and inefficient, and laws were ignored or unjust.

Factory towns polluted the air and water as they churned out armaments while ordinary citizens had to stand in long lines for paltry supplies of food and shoddy goods.

Collectivized agriculture made the lives of farmers and their customers miserable. Public health services were abysmal, and the population.

especially the Slavic majority, suffered from pervasive alcoholism, low birthrates, and decreasing life expectancy.

Andropov faulted the complacent and stultifying policies of Leonid Brezhnev, the ponderous, beetle-browed apparatchik who replaced Khrushchev in 1964.

Andropov succeeded Brezhnev in 1982

His kidneys were failing and within a few months he was working mostly from his dacha, tethered to a dialysis machine.

From a hospital bed in 1983 he urged his underlings to choose Gorbachev as his successor.

But when Andropov died the following February, they had already decided that Konstantin Chernenko, a seventy-twoyear-old party hack.

would be a safer pick, although he was afflicted with emphysema, pleurisy, pneumonia, and heart disease. They were organizing Chernenko’s funeral just thirteen months later.

Unlike the succession after Andropov’s death

the outcome this time had not been decided beforehand. Gorbachev, who had just celebrated his fifty-fourth birthday.

was the front-runner. He had risen to the number-two position in the Politburo, which meant that he would chair the meeting on succession.

There were half a dozen other aspirants, ranging in age from sixty-two to eighty, all orthodox Communists to the bone .

and all experienced in protecting their personal turf and the status quo.

Gorbachev let all the members have their say while he steered them toward selecting him by acclamation to head the commission.

that would supervise Chernenko’s interment in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. That ceremonial duty was, by tradition.

a signal that he would be the next leader. The Central Committee rubber-stamped the decision the next day.[2]

Until this triumphal moment in his career

Gorbachev was wary about how Raisa would react to his appointment and therefore had not told her his plans.

where does gorbachev live today
where does gorbachev live today

Taubman, in one of their interviews, probed why he kept his closest confidante in the dark.

Was it because she would be disappointed if he lost out, or because she feared the troubles that the job would bring?

The latter, Gorbachev replied laconically. His critics accused him then—and still do now—of hubris and lust for power. Taubman does not agree:

“True, he wanted the top spot and had been maneuvering to get it.

But he didn’t want power for its own sake; if power had been his goal, he often insisted in later years, he would have presided happily ever after over the status quo, as Brezhnev had.”

Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev[f] (born 2 March 1931) is a Russian and former Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991. He was also the country’s head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and president of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991.

 

 

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