Gorbachev was the first leader of Russia to put the good of the country- that is fundamental reform of an oppressive system—above retaining power.
On March 2, 2016, Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last only president of the Soviet Union, has turned 85. Jack Matlock, former American ambassador to the USSR, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA Faculty) of the Columbia University, gave his assessment of Gorbachev's role in interview with valdaiclub.com.
People throughout the world hold President Mikhail Gorbachev in high esteem because of his key role in ending the Cold War, reversing the dangerous arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States, and raising the Iron Curtain that separated the countries of Europe and isolated his own country. He and President Ronald Reagan agreed in their first meeting in 1985 that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and therefore there could be no war between their countries. They acted on that conviction, agreeing on radical reductions of military forces on both sides. They shared a vision of freeing the world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Russians should honor Mikhail Gorbachev not only for those services to Russia and mankind, but also for freeing his country of one-party dictatorship and refusing to use force to keep himself in power. He was the first leader of Russia to put the good of the country--that is fundamental reform of an oppressive system—above retaining power. Those Russians who mourn the passing of the Soviet Union should be reminded that it was their elected leader, Boris Yeltsin, who successfully opposed President Gorbachev’s call for a voluntary, democratic federation, and conspired with the leaders of Belarus and Ukraine to break up the USSR without any coherent plan for the future.
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