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Remembering Mikhail Gorbachev

September 3rd, 2022

A conservative historian and a left-wing pundit agree that Hungarians and Central Europeans should be thankful to Mikhail Gorbachev, without whom a peaceful democratic transition and independence from the Soviet empire would not have been possible.

On her Látószög blogsite, conservative historian Mária Schmidt remembers Mikhail Gorbachev by republishing a short essay originally written in 2006. Schmidt writes that Hungarians should be extremely grateful to Gorbachev for making the democratic transition possible. Despite the fact that in the mid-1980s Hungarians no longer believed in Socialist ideology, they were realists and knew that the Communist regime would stand firm in Hungary as long as it was supported by the Soviet Union and its army. Gorbachev wanted to reform Communism but did not use violence to keep the Soviet empire together, Schmidt adds. For all this, Gorbachev would deserve a statue in Budapest.

Népszava’s Gábor Horváth also thinks that Eastern Europeans should be grateful to Gorbachev. The left-wing analyst adds that Russians should also honour him for reforming the political system and introducing civil liberties – rather than seeing him as the destroyer of the Soviet empire. Horváth contends that if the Soviet Union had been ruled by a Putin-like leader in the late 1980s, a peaceful transition in Central Europe would have been brutally suppressed by the same means Putin uses in Ukraine.

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