World leaders fire a man who ‘changed the course of history’

Since the fatal outcome of the long illness that Mikhail Gorbachev has suffered in recent years became known, attention shifted towards the main Western foreign ministries. Russia, the country that the politician with the stain on his forehead rescued from the death rattles of the Soviet Union, is at war. Every syllable of every word of every patronizing phrase has a marked political meaning. Possibly more for what is not said or insinuated than for what is openly expressed.

These are the main reactions collected by the international media so far:

The Secretary General of the UN,
Anthony Guterres, praised “a unique statesman who changed the course of history. He did more than any other individual to bring about a peaceful end to the Cold War.”

The President of the European Commission,
Ursula von der Leyen, highlighted his role as a “trustworthy and respected leader. He played a crucial role in ending the Cold War and bringing down the Iron Curtain. He paved the way for a free Europe. This legacy is something we will not forget.”

The Russian President,
Vladimir Putin, expressed his “deep condolences” through the mouth of the Kremlin spokesman. “Vladimir Putin expresses his deep condolences on the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, he will send a telegram of condolences to the family and relatives of the former leader,” Dmitri Peskov was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

For his part, the still British Prime Minister,
Boris Johnson, praised “the courage and integrity” of the president born on May 2, 1931. “I am saddened to hear of Gorbachev’s death. I have always admired the courage and integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end. At a time of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, his unremitting commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to all of us.”

Another remembered phrase about the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize is from the then British Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher summarizing how he was seen from the other side of the Iron Curtain: “I like Gorbachev. We can do business together.” It is the same idea that was repeated throughout Europe last night. By contrast. A reminder, perhaps, of what the current Russian leader lacks.

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