January 28, 2023

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Gorbachev died in shock and amazement from the war, says his translator abroad

Gorbachev died in shock and amazement from the war, says his translator abroad

In the months leading up to his death, Mikhail Gorbachev was deeply shocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and was deeply concerned about the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Kiev in recent years. His former translator reported this on Thursday.

Pavel Palachenko, now 73, worked for Mikhail Gorbachev for 37 years and helped him reach dozens of summits with the United States. The translator also kept in touch with him and his daughter Irina in the years following Gorbachev’s disappearance from the political scene.

A few weeks ago, he spoke to the ex-Soviet leader on the phone and Palachenko heard how shocked he was by events in Ukraine. It wasn’t just the process that started on February 24. The full development of relations between Russia and Ukraine in recent years has dealt him a very strong blow. “He really crushed him psychologically and psychologically,” the translator told Reuters.

Mikhail Gorbachev during a meeting with US President Ronald Reagan on December 8, 1987. © AP

“It was clear to us in our conversations with him that he was shocked and amazed for all sorts of reasons for what was happening. He not only believed in the rapprochement of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, but also that these two nations are intertwined.”

diplomatic solution

Gorbachev himself had family ties to Ukraine and believed in a diplomatic solution to problems, says the man, noting that the position of the former Soviet leader on Ukraine was complex and contradictory, because he still believed in the idea of ​​the Soviet Union. union.

Like his contemporaries, Palachenko said, he stuck to the idea of ​​an imagined state comprising most of the former Soviet Union, but Gorbachev would never have gone to war to re-establish that unification. Of course I can’t imagine him saying, that is. I will do anything to enforce it.”

While Gorbachev was convinced that it was his duty to show respect and support to Putin, according to his translator, he publicly expressed his disagreement with the current Russian president on several occasions, including over his treatment of the media. However, he committed himself not to make any sustained comment on events in Ukraine, except for a statement in February that called for an end to hostilities and a remedy for humanitarian problems.


© Reuters


He liked to say that history is a fickle lady. I think he believed and expected the final verdict to be positive for him

Palazhchenko acknowledges that some Russians don’t think much of Gorbachev due to the economic and geopolitical turmoil that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but his legacy is important, he asserts. Gorbachev not only helped end the Cold War and reduce the dangers of nuclear war, but he also voluntarily dismantled totalitarianism within the Soviet Union and gave Russia a chance at freedom and democracy. “I think he remained optimistic about Russia’s future, despite the fact that his legacy had been tarnished, and what he considered ‘unfair criticism,’” said the translator. “He believed that the people of Russia are very talented and as soon as they had the opportunity, perhaps a second chance, that would appear that talent”.

The man is clearly annoyed by the criticism leveled at Gorbachev on social media. His former employer was convinced that history would eventually show that he had done the right thing. “He liked to say that history is a fickle lady. I think he believed and expected the final verdict to be positive for him.”

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