Shashi Tharoor recalls his meetings with Gorbachev: ‘My last conversation…'

Published on Aug 31, 2022 08:10 AM IST

Gorbachev ended the Cold War without bloodshed by bringing the Soviet Union closer to the West than at any point since World War II but failed to prevent its collapse.

Shashi Tharoor said he had the privilege of meeting Gorbachev twice, both times in Italy at small conferences.
Shashi Tharoor said he had the privilege of meeting Gorbachev twice, both times in Italy at small conferences.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday recalled his encounter with "charming" and “affable” Mikhail Gorbachev as he paid tribute to the last Soviet leader who died on Tuesday at the age of 91. Tharoor said he had the privilege of meeting Gorbachev twice, both times in Italy at small conferences, and his last conversation with him was in Rimini at the Pio Manzu conference which the former Soviet leader chaired in 2009. (Also Read | 'Played crucial role to bring down Iron Curtain': Tributes for Mikhail Gorbachev)

Gorbachev ended the Cold War without bloodshed by bringing the Soviet Union closer to the West than at any point since World War II but failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.

Taking to Twitter, Tharoor said, “Former Soviet President Mikhail #Gorbachev has died. He will be remembered by many as a pragmatic leader who transformed the Soviet Union & led it to democracy but by others as the man who caused its collapse w/his policies of perestroika (restructuring)& glasnost (openness). RIP.”

He added, “I had the privilege of meeting Mikhail Gorbachev twice, both times in Italy at small conferences. He was pleasant, charming &affable, &had no airs. My last conversation w/him was in Rimini, where i spoke about India at the Pio Manzu conference he chaired in October 2009. RIP.”

Gorbachev died after a long illness, according to a statement from the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow.

US President Joe Biden hailed Gorbachev, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, as a "rare leader" who made the world safer.

"These were the acts of a rare leader - one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it," Biden said in a statement, referring to his democratic reforms. "The result was a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Gorbachev's "tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all".

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