It’s the biggest heavyweight fight in Russia since Ivan Drago vs. Rocky Balboa. This time, former Soviet leader Mikhail “The Bruisin’ Bald Birthmark” Gorbachev has come out of retirement to battle the current title holder, Vladimir “The DNC Hacker from Dzerzhinsky” Putin.
Unlike the Drago-Balboa fight from “Rocky IV,” this one took place in the pages of Time magazine. Gorbachev was tasked with writing Putin’s profile for Time’s “The 100 Most Influential People” article.
While most of the profiles were softball pieces written by people who supported the individual (Donald Trump’s profile, for instance, was written by Paul Ryan; Colin Kaepernick’s blurb was contributed by Jim Harbaugh, his former coach), Time decided to give the honors on Putin to Gorbachev, who isn’t exactly a Putin fan.
Gorbachev proceeded to tear into Putin, arguing that even if Putin had “succeeded in stabilizing the situation, preserving the Russian state and strengthening its economic position” when he took over from Boris Yeltsin, he had stifled democracy in post-Soviet Russia.
“Today, even as the international agenda continues to be important, equally urgent are Russia’s domestic problems: a stagnating economy and declining living standards; mass poverty and corruption and illegal enrichment of the few; the degradation of education, health care and science,” Gorbachev wrote.
“Each year, addressing parliament, the president emphasizes these problems. But they cannot be solved without a change in the system of government.
“I am convinced that Russia can succeed only through democracy. Russia is ready for political competition, a real multiparty system, fair elections and regular rotation of government,” Gorbachev added. “This should define the role and responsibility of the president.”
While nothing that Gorbachev said was necessarily incorrect, it’s worth pointing out that for all his emphasis on glasnost and perestroika, Gorbachev remains the last un-elected communist autocrat to hold power over Russia. Being a former Soviet leader and criticizing Putin for heavy-handed tactics is getting pretty deep into pot-and-kettle territory, if you ask me.
Either way, it’s fun to watch two autocrats squabble like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.
One assumes Putin is going to respond to Gorbachev’s remarks sometime soon. Let’s hope, for the former Soviet leader’s sake, that the response doesn’t involve polonium-210.
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