'Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall' - quotes about the last Soviet leader

·4-min read

(Reuters) - Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, died on Tuesday at the age of 91, Russian news agencies reported. One of the most talked about people in the world, here are some quotes about him.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, BBC interview, December 14, 1984:

"I like Mr Gorbachev. We can do business together."

Article from the Washington Post, November 1987:

"Just now, thanks to charming Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, his nicely dressed wife Raisa, and his glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), it is the flavor of the month. Hip boutiques are selling Lenin pins and hammer-and-sickle T-shirts. We're giving Gorbachev approval ratings higher than those for all the Democratic candidates except Jesse Jackson. The Washington Blade, a gay newspaper, ran an ad for a Mrs Gorbachev look-alike contest...

"What's going on here? Only yesterday the Soviet Union was everything grim, gray, brutal and bureaucratic....

"Now, even with the thick roster of protests planned around Gorbachev's visit, the atmosphere is changing in one of those great lurches of national feeling that foreigners find both charming and frightening about America."

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, speech at Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987:

"There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate!

"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

U.S. President George Bush, at press conference alongside Gorbachev after talks, Dec. 3, 1989:

"For forty years, the Western alliance has stood together in the cause of freedom. And now, with reform under way in the Soviet Union, we stand at the threshold of a brand new era of U.S.-Soviet relations... I am optimistic that as the West works patiently together and increasingly cooperates with the Soviet Union, we can realise a lasting peace and transform the east-west relationship to one of enduring cooperation."

Press release from Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, Oct. 15, 1990:

"During the last few years, dramatic changes have taken place in the relationship between East and West. Confrontation has been replaced by negotiations. Old European nation states have regained their freedom. The arms race is slowing down.... These historic changes spring from several factors, but in 1990 the Nobel Committee wants to honor Mikhail Gorbachev for his many and decisive contributions."

Unidentified Moscow teacher, speaking to Reuters the same day:

"The Nobel Committee just doesn't know what it's like here... Let them spend a couple of months living like Russians and see how they feel. Is peace only for foreigners?"

Statement by the State Committee for the Emergency Situation in the USSR, after announcing Gorbachev had been stripped of his powers in a failed August, 1991 coup, as reported by TASS news agency:

"A mortal danger has come to loom large over our great Motherland. The policy of reforms, launched at Mikhail S. Gorbachev's initiative and designed as a means to insure the country's dynamic development and the democratisation of social life, has entered... a blind alley.

"Lack of faith, apathy and despair have replaced the original enthusiasm and hopes. Authorities at all levels have lost the population's trust... Malicious outrage against all state institutes is being imposed. The country has in fact become ungovernable."

"The country is sinking into the quagmire of violence and lawlessness. Never before in national history has the propaganda of sex and violence assumed such a scale, threatening the health and lives of future generations. Millions of people are demanding measures against the octopus of crime and glaring immorality."

"The pride and honor of the Soviet people must be restored in full... We shall clean the streets of our cities from criminal elements and put an end to arbitrariness of the squanderers of the national wealth."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulating Gorbachev on his 91st birthday, March 2, 2022, as quoted by TASS:

"You have lived a long, fulfilling life, and you've rightfully earned great prestige and recognition. It is gratifying that today your multifaceted work contributes to the implementation of much-needed social, educational, charitable projects, as well as to the development of international humanitarian cooperation."

(Compiled by Peter Graff)