MIkhail Gorbatchev (Gorbi) completely changed my life for the better. I offer my deep respect and eternal gratitude to him!

I will never forget the intoxicating spirit of freedom during the Perestroika era and beyond. The glimmer of hope, Moscow News, the emergence of cooperatives and millionaires, Brodsky and Mandelstam, Carnegie and Nietzsche. The most important thing is that the Iron Curtain fell. I specifically counted. In the thirty years since then, I have visited thirty-three countries. I have traveled abroad about a hundred times in total. In December 1995, in Switzerland’s luxurious Montreux Palace hotel, I had the opportunity to personally thank Gorbachev for the freedom he brought.

My third trip abroad and the first one for business was organized by an American international company that I had just started working for. After three months of probation, I was invited to visit the European headquarters in Lausanne before my promotion. We had a week-long conference in Montreux, and Gorbachev stayed at the “Montreux Palace” hotel with two bodyguards.

Two energetic young guys, myself from Kazakhstan and Timur from Uzbekistan, stumbled upon Mikhail Sergeyevich by chance in the hotel lobby. Timur recognized him first and froze in his tracks. I followed suit.

“Thank you, Mikhail Sergeyevich, for our happy…” Timur hesitated, searching for all possible options, anything but “childhood.”

“The present,” I blurted out. “If it weren’t for you, we would have never had the chance to come here in our lives.

Gorbachev smiled kindly and wished us something good. I don’t remember his exact words, only the feeling remains, perhaps even a blessing.

As a Nobel laureate, he had plans to run in the 1996 presidential elections in Russia, but he had a philosophical and weary look about him. There was no excitement. It seemed he understood that he had fulfilled his mission and had little chance of a new victory. Whether Gorbachev’s rule was good or bad, time will judge. But for now: May God forgive him, as well as us! Rest in peace, Gorbi!

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