Wednesday, 5 October, 2022

Gorbachev, a beacon of peace, is no more

On 31 August 2022 the world lost a dedicated peacemaker in the death of the last Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev at the age of 91. During the US-Soviet cold war era in late 1980s, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation, there were many outstanding world personalities who helped maintain peace in the world. Among the luminaries of world leaders who gave peace best shot, Gorbachev perhaps played the most important role in making the world safer.

In 1989 pro-democracy protests had spread across the Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe. At the same time the Berlin Wall, which had separated East and West Germany, was brought down for reunification of Germany. The people in as many 15 Soviet blocs were protesting for freedom.  Unlike other strongmen rulers, Gorbachev as Soviet president didn’t send tanks to quell the protest. He respected the people’s desire and helped them succeed in establishing their independent and democratic countries.

To his great credit, he had ushered changes in Russia too by giving the people a greater taste of freedom, lifting media restriction and allowing people to criticise the government without fear of punishment. Thus he became one of the world’s most acclaimed and respected leaders and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

However, after surviving a coup attempt by hard-liners in August 1991, he resigned on Christmas Day as the last leader of the Soviet Union. Thus he had only a six-year reign of power but in this short period he had ushered in astonishing historic transformations that shaped the world.

While Eastern European countries have a special reason to mourn his death, Gorbachev was a widely admired and respected personality in many ways all across the globe. An extra-ordinarily big-hearted person like him is extremely rare even in today’s world. The world will be immensely benefited if the present world leaders can learn one or two things from Gorbachev’s principles and values.