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Why I don't like Gorby

By Irina Malenko

… Nobody in Ireland has asked our opinion while inviting him into this country.
Yes, I know for quite a while already that our voices do not really matter here,
but never yet was it so blatantly obvious as it is today.

How would the Irish people feel if Oliver Cromwell was granted freedom of Moscow?
Any objections? Why not – he is a real historical figure and was very progressive
at his time…

At the last Russian presidential elections in which he dared to participate,
the Darling of the West, Mr. Gorby received just 0.51% of the vote. Not in
a single region of my home country did he get even 2%. So, when I am expressing
my opinion now, this isn't just my opinion. It is an opinion of the majority
of my people, whenever you like it or not.

My relatives were lucky. If I was in Dublin on the 9th of January this year,
the chances were big that I would follow the destiny of the Latvian schoolgirl
Alina Lebedeva who is now facing 15 years in prison – for having symbolically
hit British prince Charles on his face with carnation flowers – “flowers of
the Revolution”, as we call them.

…Interesting, how many years can you get for this in Ireland?…

… I wouldn't choose carnations. Id pick up beautiful roses. With as sharp thorns
as possible. Well, Mr. Gorbachev should have been used to it by now: it has
happened to him several times in his home country where he appears now so seldom
that we even started thinking that he has emigrated for good. Once, a young
lady was giving him a bunch of roses, then she quickly turned it upside down
I smashed him on his smiling face. And another time, it was a young man who
has lost everything because of those “reforms” for which the West is so grateful
to Mr. Gorby: work, security in life, opportunity to study, ability  not to
be afraid that you won’t be able to afford to be sick (do you know that in some
parts of my country nowadays they already operate you without anaesthetics if
you can’t pay in dollars?) ; basically, any form of a decent life for a human
being for himself and for his children. He has powerfully hit the cheek of The
Ex-Comrade Who Was Dreaming To Be Mister  all his life, saying: “I have been
dreaming to do that for a long time!”

In Russia both these “terrorists” were not just not arrested the way Alina was:
everybody, including the policemen, were cheering at them.

The Westerners –even those who consider themselves to be left wing – do not
understand why the majority of my people did not love such a sophisticated and
tastefully dressed lady as Raisa, Mrs. Gorby. They explain it by all sorts of
ridiculous reasons: jealousy, our natural wilderness etc.  It is impossible
to explain to them that in our culture – in that culture in which I was brought
up – we are used to value people by THEIR OWN achievements and contribution
to the society. The very western conception of The First Lady – a woman who
is being considered important not because of her own achievements, but because
of whom she is married to – is alien to us. In fact, it is deeply humiliating
for any modern, educated, independent, intelligent woman, and for our women
before Gorby all the ways in life were broadly open. (It is thanks to his  “democracy
and freedom” that Russian women now get fired first, have to sleep with their
boss in order to keep their jobs and when being hired have to sign contracts
that they will not get pregnant for the next 3 years…)
 First Lady for me symbolizes the same what the Afghani chador symbolizes for
the Westerners: a woman who can not realize herself in the society by herself
and who needs  protection of a man in order to do that.

But we, Russians, do not speak badly about our dead ones. It is our tradition;
so, let’s better look at those who are still desperately trying to rise from
their own political grave.

 “Such a pity that you didn’t let Gorbachev finish what he has started!” – I
hear so often from my Western friends who as a rule have no idea about our life;
neither before Gorbachev, not under him, nor after.

They think they know, but they don’t.  In 1991 I was planning to do Russian
Studies at the University of Leyden in the Netherlands – but have abandoned
this idea, after discovering how many plain lies about my own country I’d have
to repeat in order to pass my exams. They weren’t just exaggerations or one-sided
comments; they were plain lies, like, for example, that we didn’t have trade

But I noticed that too many people here also simply do not want to know how
did we live. It will destroy the whole vision of the world that they are receiving
from childhood on. It will make them feel uncomfortable, because they will inevitably
start questioning their own way of life. It is therefore far more convenient
to dismiss everything that doesn’t fit into your mental picture created by the
media and the schools, as “communist propaganda”. I met people in the Netherlands
who were trying to tell me what life was like in the country where I have lived
for 22 years – while they have never even been there. Unlike these people, I
really have the right to compare both systems as I have lived for  12 years
in the West now, in 4 different countries.

It is far more comfortable to think that you are receiving an important historical
figure in Dublin today. A figure that “did something good”. The only question:
good for whom?

When I was passing the State Exam for Interpreters in the Netherlands, I have
received a bad mark for “country knowledge” – simply because I dared to disagree
with my well-fed Dutch examiner who stated that “Russia is flourishing”.

… Our population is diminishing with 1 million per year. (The Irish, don’t you
remember your own Potato Famine and your own emigration, full of bitter tears
and broken hearts?). Premature deaths, an enormous amount of murders, civil
war, emigration… In Moscow there are about 50.000 homeless children – something
we didn’t have even during the darkest days of W.W.II! 
There  are 3 to 5 millions of such children in the whole country. The same as
the whole Irish population!

 You can’t tell me that we had it “under communism” too. I have lived there
– you have not. 

I do not like Gorbachev. Just as many millions of my compatriots.

What should I like him for? For the freedom of speech?

Yes, such a freedom when the ruling “Cat Vas’ka is listening and continuing
to it…”

I was always saying what I think, my whole life, and nobody even threatened
to send me to any GULAG.

And  you can’t feed a nightingale with the fairy-tales.

Freedom of movement? 

For those 3 % of the population who are spending  their holidays on Bahamas
now – while millions have lost even their only opportunity to visit their parents
in the neighbouring Ukraine once a year, because they can not afford it...

And when we, finally-free-to-move people, come here to the West, we are not
welcome. Unless we come with the stolen millions, of course…

Would Irish people be interested to know how an ordinary Russian family of 5
(husband, wife, 2 children and granny) nowadays manage to survive solely on
granny’s miserable pension and self-grown potatoes and gherkins the whole year

Probably they won’t. It’s much nicer to talk about “human values” to a distinguished
gentleman like Gorby who would  not even know how much an average pension in
Russia is.

Before giving this gentleman freedom of your city, why don’t you ask our Russian
women what we think of the Godfather of the modern Russian Mafia State? Those
of us who still remember that before 1988 you could freely walk on the street
at night, and nothing would have happened to you. Until this distinguished gentleman
and his spin-doctors (interesting,  who was financing them?) have “enlightened
 our males that “erotica is a part of world’s high culture”. And how, from that
time on, it became impossible to walk on the street or to work in the office
without constant fear that you can be grabbed under your skirt at any moment
in time…

Today our women and children are being sold into sex-slavery in the West – as
much as 50.000 of them per year. This is also Gorby’s heritage .

But would the Westerners be able to understand me – if at the end of the year,
on the most wonderful holidays of the year they are being shown programs like
“Highlights of the British Television” where penises and boobs are flying around
the screen, people are telling each other whom and how they shagged, and this
is supposed to be “very funny”?  It might be possible that they already do not
know any “culture” other than this…

… I remember Gorby's visit to Rotterdam where I lived at that time. This once
head of state  was acting like some sort of escort service offering himself
for dinner for the rich Western entrepreneurs. Among Russian emigre circles
there were continuous rumours that Mikhail Sergeevich was even entertaining
them with singing Russian folk songs accompanied by a guitar….

He has fallen much in price since though: if Bill Clinton can still reasonably
charge for his company at the dinner table ?100.000, poor Mikhail Sergeevich
can get no more than lousy ?8000… As far as I know, it was the highest and the
only bid he got offering himself for dinner at an Internet auction.

… I could say oh so many warm words for your highly respected guest. But I only
want to say about a Somali refugee whom I met in the Dutch city of Tilburg.
An old man who has lost all his family, including 7 little beautiful grandchildren,
during the civil war and the American intervention in his country. He was cursing
the man who is receiving freedom of Dublin today, saying that there is no balance,
no parity in the world today, no stability, and that Americans were able to
enter his country just because of what Gorby did on a world-wide scale.

Today, remembering  tears of this old man who had to come against his will 
at this age in his life  into a completely alien for him country and to live
among complete strangers who do not care, who has lost everything what held
the sense of life for him, I would like to ask the Irish people: what good did
Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev  do for your country?

No, don’t give me quotations about “democracy and freedom” in general. We’ll
sort him out ourselves.  A politician should be judged by the following criteria:
has the life  become better for the majority of his people because of his politics
or not?

Anybody who has experienced excellent standards of free education and medical
care in Cuba, can say that by this criteria Fidel Castro is a democrat.  Mikhail
Gorbachev is clearly not. He has destroyed both in his home country and has
not built anything decent in return.  He has been far too busy writing the books
and giving lectures around the world  (for a good honorarium, of course!) about
“human values”. 

What did he do for you?

Many of you nowadays are complaining or at least, are concerned about “the flood
of asylum-seekers and refugees” into Ireland , among  whom “too many bogus”,
or “shameless economic refugees”. 

How blind shall one be not to see the direct connection between what  Russian
philosopher, ex-dissident A. Zinovyev calls “Catastroyka” (from the world “catastrophe
) and this catastrophic growth of the refugee numbers in the entire world that
is more and more noticeable on Dublin streets today!

Or maybe that is exactly why you have invited West’s favourite Teddy Beer to
Dublin today –  to tell him “go raibh mile maith agat” for having all of us
with you today?

I love Ireland. But I doubt I would want to live here or in any other country
full-time – if Mr. Gorbachev wouldn’t have made with his politics  survival
for any decent human being in my own country  impossible.

If I were him, I’d wake up in cold sweat every night and think about all of
those who perished  after his “Catastroyka” – as lives of all of those who died
in the civil and international armed conflicts, those who drank himself to death
because he wasn’t able to feed his kids, those who cut her veins because she
was sold abroad as an animal  to satisfy sexual fantasies of distinguished Western
gentlemen with thick wallets , are on his conscience. 

He has taken away from me the very thing freedom is impossible without. The
freedom to make choices. 

I have spent 12 years of my life in the West. Some Russians might still have
an illusion that “it is worth to suffer in order to build Western-style freedom
and democracy”.  It isn’t.  The life that I see and live here, is most definitely
not worth to suffer for.

In fact, a lot of things people here can only dream of  (free good medical care
with no waiting lists, free education, low rents, job security, 18 months paid
maternity leave, the list can go on and on and on) we already had. And have
given it all away for an empty promise of “freedom”. Freedom for those who can
pay for it. Slavery and misery for the majority that works to feed them.

I am human being – not an animal. I do not want to live the kind of life I have
here – where “man is a wolf to a man” and your only joy in life is a pint of
beer, shop-till-you-drop and watching somebody’s erected penises on TV. I do
not want to live in “Russian Columbia” of today that differs from it only by
its material conditions.

Before, when there were 2 world systems, people had  choice. It wasn’t always
easy to emigrate, but those who wanted, always could find the way.

Today I have no choice. I am being imposed on a life style that is deeply alien
to me, - and I am being told that “this is freedom”. I have nowhere to run from
And I see again and again the surprised faces of my Irish friends to whom I
tell that, given a chance, I would like to move now back to Soviet Union, even
knowing all the shortcomings of the life we had. I’d leave behind everything
without what they can’t imagine their lives. Without any hesitation.

An Old Russian jokes ends with: “Well, we’ll have to start everything from the
beginning!”   I am not afraid of that.

Laughing, I am telling to my Irish friends about their guest: “ You can have
him, if you like him. But there is no warranty: we won't take him back!"

 And I won’t to say “Cead mile failte!” to  Mr. Gorby in my beautiful Dublin

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