Today Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev turned 80 years.
I met him last year in Moscow (pictures I took from that meeting are here), and had the opportunity to thank him personally for everything he did for my country, and for the rest of the East European so-called “socialist camp”.
I read Anton Nossik’s note at Live Journal today, and it made me reflect what I was thinking back almost 25 years ago about Gorbachev and what I think today. What I thought then is irrelevant, indeed. What is important is, that today every Bulgarian (and for what is worth, every East European) can travel freely across Bulgaria, live wherever they want (there was a limit to live only in the city you have permit to do so). Today every Bulgarian can travel freely all over the world (in socialism, one needed a passport with an exit visa. Yes, yes – exit visa; in other words, the government allowed you to leave the country. The same situation exists today in some countries, by the way). Today Bulgarians can say freely what they think about their own government (yes, there was a restriction about criticism towards their own government). Today Bulgarians have good memories about socialism (but they didn’t like it when they were living under it).
The changes in East Europe were thanks to this man, Gorbachev. Without him, instead of writing this blog entry, I would have probably been either in prison, or in exile in West Berlin. And yes, West Berlin would still have been surrounded by “that wall”.
So, thank you, Mr. Gorbachev.
Spasibo, Mikhail Sergeevich, for tearing down that wall – around West Berlin, and around the socialist camp. Thank you for freeing the minds and souls of hundreds of millions imprisoned people in the soviet system, and for allowing them to live their own lives.
You might not be fully recognized by some of the elderly people from the previous generation, but my generation – people who were around 20 in 1989, will remember you as the one who brought freedom and democracy. Spasibo bolshoe.