In terms of impact for the better, there’s no doubt Gorby was one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.

Much was made in the numerous obituaries of the anger felt towards him in Russia, understandable following the collapse of communism and the chaos which ensued.

I first went there in the 1960s and made a point of periodic revisits thus witnessed the dramatic historic changes, such as for example, turning Russian cities from depressing hell-holes to the lovely cities they now are.

When the football World Cup was staged there a few years back, matches were spread across numerous cities, mainly in Eastern Russia.

Tens of thousands of Western European football fans descended on these locations and it became a major news-item when they returned and reported how blown away by them they’d been, contrary to all the negative imagery.

The news-items showing thousands of people queuing to pay homage to Gorby lying in his coffin evidenced that Russians are well aware of his historic significance for the better.

What no obituary I read mentioned was a key reason in his heyday Gorbachev was not viewed kindly. He came from Southern Russia and never lost his accent, which urban sophisticates viewed as embarrassing. Imagine for example, a Cockney-speaking British Prime Minister. It simply couldn’t happen. So it was with Gorbachev.

Call it snobbery but I don’t doubt if the British population had chosen between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak they’d overwhelmingly have opted for Sunak. He oozes sophistication and a Prime Ministerial imagery whereas Liz reeks of provincialism, in appearance and voice.

But the vote was confined to Tory Party membership and Liz’s tax cuts proposals won the day.

So too here in New Zealand. Simon Bridge’s articulation when he first entered Parliament was truly abominable and he was quickly dubbed “Soimon” by the media. Too late he took speech lessons but the dye was cast.

For all the beneficial legacy of Gorbachev the tragic fact remains that Russia still suffers from its historic problem, namely being rules by tyrants.

History will accord the current evil psychopathic piece of garbage Putin as one of the nation’s worst ever, a screaming example of short man syndrome.

Note he’s always photographed besides henchmen standing no taller that himself. He issued “tough guy” photos a few years back of him bare-chested on horse-back.

His “sport” is a pretend martial art in which the “combatants” clad in pyjamas face one another tugging at them. About 6 years back he turned up at a world title fight in Moscow and his presence was announced. Poseurs can’t fool boxing people thus the audience rose and delivered a rousing round of booing resulting in his ignominious departure.

Gorbachev was a huge bright spot in 20th century history and with the passing of time will be increasingly seen as such.


From what I understand, the distaste Russians (not all) have for Gorby wasn’t his policies economically but politically. The breakup of of the USSR was not inevitable, I understand Ukrainians, for instance, voted overwhelmingly to stay united.. Indeed the failure of Gorby to get an equivalent US and UK withdrawal from Europe has led to the current Nato ‘expansionary policies’ with the logical end result in Ukraine today..

    Spot on….Then you follow the money….This was never a war Ukraine would win, only those who have control of weapons manufacturing and oil prices….just another rinse and repeat cycle by the usual suspects…

    And you would be wrong James, 92% of Ukrainians voted for independence in 1991. The break up was always going to happen, it was Eastern European countries that started the break up by asking to leave in the first place.

At least in Liz Truss the Brits have ended up with a PM exactly 180 degrees opposite in every respect of what we have in New Zealand. You cannot do better than that!

Gorby’s wife was hot too.

Look at Liz Truss’ front row line up compared to ours.

When Gorbachov first arrived on the scene, I noticing remember the sparkle in his eyes, which stood in stark contrast to Andropov’s dead fish KGB stare. Here is a mensch was the impression I got. No wonder many western leaders announced that they could work with this man. So it proved. I don’t care what people say against him, he was a hero in my eyes, and remarkably few got crushed as the squalid dead husk of communism collapsed during his tenure.

One of my great regrets was missing the World Cup in Russia. Events conspired against me. Gorby certainly learned from his mistakes which sets him apart from other Soviet leaders. The scales seemed to fall from his eyes post Chernobyl when he realised very clearly the secrecy around the accident had done immense damage to the USSR conceptually and actually.
Interesting comparison on accents-they definitely matter.
Hitler went to acting and speech lessons to be able to enthral the masses. He sounded like a country yokel in private and to avoid this becoming widely known, went to great lengths to ensure he was never secretly recorded .There is only 1 recording of him speaking privately (to the Finns) which was done by a sound engineer who was then roughed up by the SS as a result.

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