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Gorby: Putin’s like Thatcher

16 February 2012

The Times has a fascinating interview (£) with former Soviet leader, Nobel Laureate and two-time Man of the Year Mikhail Gorbachev. He
strikes an optimistic tone about the future of democracy in Russia, praising the ‘Moscow Spring’ protesters and saying ‘This is the right moment to start creating as part of this
new situation a strong democratic party.’ But perhaps the most eye-catching comes when he compares Vladimir Putin with Margaret Thatcher:

‘Mr Gorbachev recalled Mrs Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time, telling him that she was leaving a summit in Paris early to deal with the challenge to her leadership from within the
Conservative Party. He said: “I felt that she was confident she would go back and put her house in order. But she failed and she had to leave Downing Street. People asked me later why it
had happened and I gave a very short answer — she stayed too long and society was tired.

“Putin is in a somewhat similar situation. He did quite a few positive things, but there are also flaws and sins that have accumulated. Putin is a religious believer, I think he
prays. But I also think that he understands in his heart that there needs to be a change in the situation.”’

In truth, this comparison probably isn’t much intended as criticism of either. A diary column that George Grieg wrote for The Spectator back in 2006 contained a nice vignette of the ‘intimacy and warmth’ that exists between Gorbachev and Thatcher, and that
has lasted well beyond their premierships. And Gorby’s call for Putin to step aside seems to have the good of the Russian presidential hopeful in mind. As he’s put it before, ‘That way he would be
able to preserve all the positive things he did’.

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Show comments
  • Herbert Thornton

    Putin has proven himself to be a worthy successor to both Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

    In Britain unfortunately, the successors to Thatcher have been increasingly disastrous. Britain desperately needs both a Prime Minister who has ability, patriotism and plain common sense equal to Putin’s – and a party of similar qualities to back him up.

  • Jeremy

    One thing about about Maggie, she was far too principled to rig an election. Could the same be said of Putin?

  • kaspy

    I totally agree.Gorbachev really worked hard and ended the cold war but by ended by breaking down the Soviet Union and Putin seems to be doing the opposite.No is better than him in keeping Russia together.His supporters have grown to 61% in Levada poll conducted today.People sure feels they don’t want an arab spring in Russia.Libya, Egypt is still in doldrums.Putin will always win until someone in opposition is serious enough to challenge him rather than just resorting to blogs or opposition.Russia is a huge continent itself and I wish a strong contender emerges in the 2018 election.Europe is already feeling the wrath of Greece riots, we don’t want a unstable Russia next to us.

  • Mirtha Tidville

    Love them or loathe them but it was Gorbachev, Thatcher and Reagan who together changed the world by helping to bring to an end the totalitarian state that was the USSR, and ended the `cold war`.

    Russian politics will always be different to those of the west and for all his sometime bellicose rantings Putin knows how to keep Russia together. It may not be pretty but so far it works..

  • HFC

    Thanks Frank P, your comment has really helped my understanding of this blog.

  • Frank P

    You could’ve Photoshopped the picture JJ. Gorby looks as though two turtle doves have commandeered his ears, as perches. And Maggie appears to be deep in thought about Ted Heath.

    Was that the only snap ever of them together? Or are you lampooning just them both? Perhaps you don’t like either because they each in their own did their best to end the Long March and rout the totalitarian destroyers?

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