Last week in London history was re-writen by the European Left. It was a celebration of Gorbachev’s 80th birthday., the theme was “Mikhail Gorbachev: The Man Who Changed the World.” This event was held in London, as Mr Gorbachev is very unpopular in his home country. So unpopular that he very rarely returns there.
Gorbachev changed the world, my ass! Excuse my French; the only reason that he was for “perestroika,” “glasnost”, and ”uskoreniye” was that America, led by Ronald Reagan was burying the Soviet Union economically and militarily. The Soviets had to place more and more assets into keeping up with the US that the shelves in the stores were bare, lines were formed from everything from basic foodstuffs to toilet paper to gasoline. Gorbachev knew that the end was near, so he tried to save the Soviet system, yes, read his book, “perestroika,” “glasnost”, and ”uskoreniye” is an attempt to save socialism, not to reform it into democracy and capitalism.
The Soviet system was collapsing as a direct result of Reagan’s policies and American Economic and Military might. The Soviets had to reform and pull out of Eastern Europe because they could not afford to keep their armies deployed. The Soviets could not keep pace with the Americans and their house of cards fell apart. I witnessed all of this first hand, yet some in the West forget why Gorbachev had to try some reforms. They conveniently forget that Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, NATO, and Star Wars freed Eastern Europe from Soviet domination. People in the East who lived under the oppression of Communism and the Soviets haven’t forgotten though. Reagan’s memory is held in high regard with the memory of Pope John Paul II. I traveled all through East Germany and Poland both before and after the Wall fell. The Germans and Poles weren’t thanking Gorbachev for their freedom, they were thanking Reagan, and in Poland’s case, Reagan and John Paul II.
Here is the article from the Moscow Times, even they make fun of this event:
If you had ever been asked who would attend the 80th birthday celebration for the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, it is unlikely that you would have answered Shirley Bassey, the Scorpions and one of the Spice Girls.
But they and many more stars were in attendance for a birthday party late Wednesday — a concert and an awards ceremony with the grand, almost James Bond title of ”Mikhail Gorbachev: The Man Who Changed the World.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, conductor Valery Gergiyev, former Polish President Lech Walesa and Israeli President Shimon Peres were among those who joined Gorbachev as well as Mel C — formerly Sporty Spice — as the night moved from cheesy and over-the-top to touching and back again in the blink of an eye.
“I never expected to live until 80, but now I take on the responsibility of living until I am 90,” Gorbachev joked in a short speech at the start of the evening.
The nigh-on four-hour event was hosted by — again, who would have guessed it — actors Sharon Stone and Kevin Spacey, who spoke in front of a neo-classical column decorated with pink curtains.
They tried but failed to do an impression of Academy Awards ceremony hosts, Spacey the joker doing impressions of Bill Clinton and Jack Nicholson but sadly no voices relevant to Gorbachev’s time in office, and Stone the ditzy co-host with a number of dress changes. Hearing both of them continuously mangle various Russian names and concepts added a level of surreality to the event, which was attended by numerous Russians.
Announcing that Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko — football forwards from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs, respectively — were in the audience, Spacey mangled their names to unrecognizability and then tried to get laughs with the hoary joke about a ”perestroikas” [pair of strikers] being present.
The evening began with a film showing world figures such as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa with schmaltzy quotes about changing the world before moving on to Gorbachev drawing applause from the black-tie crowd who had paid up to £100,000 ($160,000) to be at the event.
Aging German rock band the Scorpions sang their song “Wind of Change” about the political changes in Eastern Europe and brought tears to at least one audience member. No tears came when they followed that up with their song “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”
But the fact that the night was taking place in London rather than anywhere in the former Soviet Union underlined the fact that Gorbachev remains a divisive figure in his homeland, where many fault him for changing their world. Not that many at the show appeared to realize that.
There were many tributes to Gorbachev, but the hosts in particular seemed to be bent on just saying the phrase “the man who changed the world” or talking of how Gorbachev had allowed to Russia to become “free and democratic” over and over again.
Some in the audience, and surely Gorbachev himself, who recently chastised Vladimir Putin for backtracking on democracy, may have felt the huge gap between rhetoric and reality on the night.
The total Hollywoodization of Gorbachev’s role came when Russian pop group Khor Turetskogo (the Turetsky Choir) sang the African-American spiritual song, “Go Down, Moses,” only to change the lyrics to ”Gorbachev, Let My People Go.”
This was followed by Mel C singing the famous Nina Simone song “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life.” The singer tweeted before the show that she would be singing the word “boobies” before lots of dignitaries that night.
A few weeks before, at a reception at the British Embassy, he noted, with false modesty perhaps, that he would have preferred to have just “sat in a corner” for his birthday, and that it was his family who was behind the event.
That may explain the eclectic line-up on the night…
Proceeds from the event are set to go to a cancer charity named after Gorbachev’s wife and to Britain’s Macmillan Cancer Support….