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If you like Mikhail Gorbachev's story, you might also like:
George H.W. Bush,
John Hume,
Paul Nitze,
Shimon Peres,
Colin Powell,
Albie Sachs,
Desmond Tutu
and Lech Walesa

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Mikhail Gorbachev in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Democratic Process

Related Links:
Gorbachev Foundation
Green Cross
Nobel Lecture

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Mikhail Gorbachev
 
Mikhail Gorbachev
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Mikhail Gorbachev Interview (page: 2 / 3)

Nobel Prize for Peace

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  Mikhail Gorbachev

What do you think made you, of all the Soviet leaders, open to change, open to reform, both within the country and in the Soviet Union's relations with the world?

Mikhail Gorbachev: Well, after all, I did come from a different generation.


We, our generation, were not associated with the repression. Moreover, we ourselves were aware of the repression, and that left its mark on us, because ours was an educated generation, a generation that knew its own value, and was capable of thinking and analyzing. When we found ourselves active participants in life, in work, and in politics, then we began to see a great deal and see it clearly. Little by little there came the awareness that in this country, this society, this system, no matter how hard we tried, no matter how sincere our convictions were, very little good could be achieved. Therefore the system had to be changed.

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But this happened when we were adults. Now if you are talking about me in particular, I think that my political career was successful.


After the university, in 1955, I became a professional politician, and in just 15 years I was already a member of the Central Committee and the head of a large region, the equivalent of a governor. I governed this large region for almost nine years. And, evidently I distinguished myself in some way so that they invited me to come to work for Brezhnev in the Politburo, the Central Committee. So I found myself at that place at the time when society was growing ripe for -- or really, had already given rise to -- the desire and the expectation for change. Especially since this occurred during a three year period when we lost three General Secretaries, Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko. The whole country was simply in some kind of -- What would you call it when the country is being ruled by old men who keep dropping dead, and the country is left without normal leadership? This was the mood in society. Plus the experience that I already had. After all, I had worked for seven years in the Politburo before I got to be General Secretary. Without that it would be unlikely that I would have gotten to be the head of a country like ours.

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It was, aside from everything else, a lucky combination of circumstances.

Surely there were other leaders and other interests that would not have had the same results in the Soviet Union. What was there about your upbringing, your background, your experience that led you to be the man?

Mikhail Gorbachev: I don't know, but if you mean were there other candidates, then there certainly were. Whether they were better or worse, I do not know. But my chances turned out to be better.


I was relatively young, the youngest of the lot, actually, and I was a man with a modern education who already had a great deal of experience working independently. At the beginning, that was important, that was significant. Also, the fact that... I was given the post of General Secretary, tantamount to being a Tsar, and did not get drunk on my own power, but instead began to transform it. That already was the result of my democratic convictions. I had had them ever since I was young, and they became my defining characteristic, my credo: devotion to democracy, respect for the worth of the individual. But the system had suppressed all that; it did not allow an individual the freedom to actualize himself. I did not accept this.

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Evidently, my reactions were the reactions of a member of the milieu to which I belonged and which I considered my own, that of the democratic, progressive, thinking intelligentsia, with a critical attitude toward all that. This was the source of it.

Mikhail Gorbachev Interview, Page: 1   2   3   


This page last revised on Nov 08, 2010 18:21 EDT
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