Gorbachev has declared to the world his support for the rape of the Crimea, surprising his less informed fans and detractors alike.
The orbis does tend to have odd ideas about Russian chieftains, including Gorbi, and none so strange as those held by the Russians themselves.
The Putinistas hate him, or rather pretend they do. They portray Gorbi as the perpetrator of “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century”, as Putin refers to the break-up of the Soviet Union, and never mind the two world wars.
Considering that the Soviet Union murdered 60 million of its own citizens in about as many years, while enslaving the rest and threatening the world with nuclear extinction, ‘catastrophe’ isn’t an ideal descriptor of its demise, but Putin’s KGB junta has its own moral compass.
At the same time, Russian ‘liberals’, those who take their cue from The Guardian and The New York Times, worship Gorbi for exactly the same reason that the ruling junta pretends to hate him: his role in the ‘collapse of communism’.
Both the liberal fools and the KGB knaves are wrong: Gorbi was and remains flesh of the USSR flesh. As one of the rulers of that hell, he’s an accomplice in all its crimes and the active agent in some.
Nor did the Soviet Union collapse: following the First Law of Thermodynamics, its evil energy was merely transformed from one type into another. Gorbi was a facilitator of that transition, and it takes utter ignorance to suggest that this role redeems the mortal sins he had committed back in the USSR.
The sins were as grave as they were multiple. Before another KGB chief, Andropov, catapulted him into the Politburo, Gorbi had lorded it over the Stavropol province, one of the most corrupt in the country, which is saying a lot.
That North Caucasus province acted as a conduit between the Party/Mafia gangs that ran Transcaucasia, and the Party/Mafia gangs that ran Moscow. Billions of purloined roubles and millions of dollars flowed through Stavropol, some of them straight into Gorbi’s pockets. His chosen method of doing business earned him the nickname Mishka-konvert (‘Mickey Envelope’), suggesting he was regarded as corrupt even by Stavropol standards.
Semi-literate though Gorbi was, he had the animal cunning to hitch his wagon to Andropov’s star while the KGB chief was still clawing his way to the top. Gorbi was useful to Andropov: he’d play host to Moscow dignitaries visiting his fiefdom’s resorts. Having loosened their tongues with vodka, Gorbi would then dutifully inform Andropov of any interesting findings, thus smoothing his succession to power.
Andropov expressed his gratitude by having a Politburo member knocked off in a staged accident and moving Gorbi, still largely unknown in the country, into the vacancy thus formed in the Kremlin’s inner sanctum.
Having eventually found himself at the helm, Gorbi acted in the manner of all his illustrious predecessors: lying and murdering. One example of the former was his flat denial that anything untoward had happened in Chernobyl in 1986. Had the westward winds not made Geiger counters go haywire in Scandinavia and Scotland, the disaster would have been hushed up like so many others.
When the Soviet Union began to creak, Gorbi reacted according to type. He encouraged an internecine massacre in Karabakh, 1988; created a carnage in Tbilisi, 1989; had Spetsnaz storm Baku, 1990; twice introduced troops into Moscow, 1990 and 1991; blockaded Lithuania, 1990; landed airborne troops in the middle of a peaceful demonstration in Vilnus, with entrenchment tools busting the demonstrators’ heads.
His KGB curators then put a gentle word into Gorbi’s ear, telling him to see the situation as an opportunity, not a threat. Scratch our back, Mishka, and we’ll scratch yours. Our goals are the same as yours, but the Soviet Union has outlived its usefulness as a way of achieving them. Leave it to us, and worry nought: we’ll look after you.
Gorbi then took part in the staging of the 1991 sham coup d’état, in which power was transferred from him to Yeltsyn de jure, and from the Party to the KGB/Mafia elite de facto. Gorbi got his General Secretary’s ransom in the shape of the Gorbachev Foundation, originally capitalised at $8 billion. Considering that his official monthly salary had never exceeded $600, he must have saved quite a bit by taking bag lunches.
Since then Gorbi has been basking in the reputation of the world’s senior statesman, feted by all and sundry. Much to the amusement of cultured Russians, he’s even described as an intellectual in the West, where people don’t realise he speaks with a Russian equivalent of Eliza Doolittle’s accent and syntax, pre-Higgins.
Now his KGB minders decided it was time to take Gorbi off the mothballs and have him express his admiration for Putin’s feral policies. He duly obliged, but I’d be careful if I were Gorbi.
As the true Russian god, the KGB giveth and the KGB taketh away. This god is wrathful – one wrong step and he’ll smite you. The safest way for Gorbi to live out his life in peace would have been to keep his mouth shut. But then that option might not have been on the table.