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MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Quarter of a century after the Soviet Union collapse, Russians still have different views on the role of its first and last president Mikhail Gorbachev who celebrates his 85th birthday on Wednesday, a state-run pollster said.
A poll "Mikhail Gorbachev: Criminal or Victim?" conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) showed that 46% of respondents believe that the ex-Soviet leader worked for the country’s welfare but "made some serious miscalculations."
Six percent of Russians said Gorbachev’s major achievement is bringing an end to the Cold War, while another five percent said the former president is credited with democratic freedoms, the survey said.
Some 12% of respondents said Gorbachev "as a brave man was not afraid of taking responsibility and carrying out the reforms needed in the country and did everything possible at that moment."
Speaking about the negative outcome of Gorbachev’s work, Russians blamed the former leader for the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 (36%) and economic slowdown of the country (10%).
The poll was conducted on February 20-21 among 1,600 respondents in 46 Russian regions.
Earlier this week, Gorbachev said he believes that freedom is his top achievement. "The most important is freedom and glasnost (meaning openness)," he told reporters in Moscow presenting his 700-page book 'Gorbachev in Person.'
Gorbachev, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said he will hold true to the ideas of perestroika - the policy of restructuring the Soviet political and economic system during the 1980s. "I was and remain faithful to that idea and the choice that I made," he stressed. Gorbachev said if he had remained at the helm of the state he would have carried out reforms "in evolutional way and without any shocks.".