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LiveLeak.com - Mikhail Gorbachev: There's No Free Press in Russia — or Anywhere Else

LiveLeak.com - Mikhail Gorbachev: There's No Free Press in Russia — or Anywhere Else

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Many people who send letters to the first and last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, still write on the envelope: "To the Secretary General of the Communist Party, Kremlin." The Russian postal service is used to this and redirects the mail to the Gorbachev Foundation, headquartered in a modern building about seven kilometers north of the Kremlin.

Some of those letters are harshly critical of Gorbachev, who is regarded as a traitor by many Russians who regret the demise of the Soviet Union and the shocking economic transformation that followed. Some of the more vitriolic missives even encourage him to commit suicide. But at 83, Gorbachev is defiant and determined.

"I live and will continue to live according to my conscience and principles. Everyone else can go crazy," he told The Moscow Times in an extensive interview this week.

Despite saying he is "already a part of history," Gorbachev said he cannot simply observe passively what is happening in Russia today.

"I need to participate, and I will. Nobody will shut my mouth, even though people wanted me to emigrate. I don't want to leave, let those people leave," Gorbachev said, banging his hands on the table for emphasis. 

Gorbachev, who in recent months underwent treatment at a hospital in Moscow, said he has been reported dead at least 10 times.

"I am called a traitor because I destroyed so many nuclear arms. The second treachery is that we built good relations with the U.S.," he said.

For those who address their letters to Gorbachev at the Kremlin, time has clearly stood still. And today, when President Vladimir Putin's Russia and the West find themselves at odds once again, the time when secretary generals in the Kremlin were engaged in an ideological rivalry with the West seems closer than ever.

Seeds of DiscordDuring the festivities marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this month, Gorbachev warned that the world risks a new Cold War. As someone who worked his way up through the Communist Party at a time when the Soviet Union and the U.S. were ready to destroy each other in a nuclear war and who then worked hard to eliminate divisions in Europe and the world at large, Gorbachev is better qualified than most to offer insight into the strikingly similar issues the world faces now.

Today, Gorbachev argues that the problems in Ukraine and the world at large are in part due to errors made during the collapse of the old system.
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=92e_1416559318&safe_mode=off#sUdhxyfOVATRlVuG.99

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