I saw this poster at Green Park tube station. Above the name “Mikhail Gorbachev”, there’s a line that reads “The man who changed the world”. It’s a grandiose strap line for a man who ushered in robber capitalism in Russia. What do I mean? Well, Gorbachev’s policy of perestroika restructured the Soviet economic system, this paved the way for the likes of Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska to buy up large chunks of the Russian economy. When Boris Yeltsin took power, he opened the door of the Kremlin and welcomed in the oligarchs; all of this would not have been possible without perestroika. The Pandora’s Box had been opened.
Gorbachev claimed to have introduced democracy to the USSR through his policy of “demokratizatsiya” but this merely permitted the oligarchs to take charge and call the shots. Yeltsin was nothing more than a puppet for the money men.
But it wasn’t just the way that the economy was liberalized or the way in which oligarchs were permitted to exercise control over politics, Gorbachev’s reforms also paved the way for the rise of nationalist parties like Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party and many others.
So Gorbachev may have changed things, but not in the world and most certainly not for the better. Gorbachev unleashed forces within the former Soviet Union that he could not control. In the end, those forces got the better of him
Who’s going to Gorby’s 80th Birthday Gala? Any takers? I bet Thatcher’s going.
Here’s a list of some of those who will be performing
The London Symphony Orchestra
Maestro Valery Gergiev
Bolshoi and Mariinsky Soloists
Andrey Makarevich and Mashina Vremeni
As one would expect Boris Johnson and John Major will be in attendance to wish “the saviour of the world” a Happy Birthday.
UPDATED: 30/3/11 @ 2004
I heard on BBC London news that the event is to raise money for “cancer charities” in “Russia and the UK”. Kevin Spacey and Sharon Stone are hosting the event. Apparently Spacey really admires Gorby.