MOSCOW, April 25. /TASS/. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday presented the new book Gorbachev in Person to students of the Moscow School of Economics, answering their questions about his perestroika policy.
A 700-page book containing quotations, memoires, interviews, letters and articles by the former Soviet president was published on the eve of his 85th birthday on March 2.
"I hope this book will help the young generation to learn a lot of interesting things about perestroika. Besides, it will counter attempts to blackmail the mastermind of perestroika that have been repeated for the past quarter of the century," one of the authors, Karen Karagezyan, said earlier.
Gorbachev answered numerous questions of the students, urging the youth not to leave the country. "Let us develop our country, our Russia," he said. He also said the decision on freedom of travel passed by the Soviet leadership had been correct. "If you want to see the world, study, go for a holiday - you are free. I think it was our correct decision," Gorbachev added.
He also mentioned his dispute with writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union, about the policy of ‘glasnost’ (openness). "Solzhenitsyn said then that Gorbachev’s glasnost ruined all," he recalled. "I objected that there would have been no perestroika without glasnost," he went on.
"Without perestroika, he would have kept living in America and thinking how to provide fuel for the winter season. Solzhenitsyn had a weak hope that he would return," he spoke about the writer, who was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974, but returned to Russia in 1994 after the USSR collapse.
"Gorbachev in Person" chronicles contacts down the years with advisers and aids, cultural activists, journalists, entrepreneurs and hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church. These sit alongside observations by politicians who knew Gorbachev personally, highlights running through the pages.
The book covers all stages in the life of the former president. It describes his childhood, student years, love for his wife Raisa, ascent to power, norms of conduct among the Soviet leadership and attitudes towards Gorbachev from Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov. It also attempts to explain reasons behind the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Compilation is the work of the Gorbachev Foundation's Karen Kargezyan and Vladimir Polyakov.