Ukrainians, Lithuanians anti-Gorby

KYIV, Ukraine (AFP) — Mikhail Gorbachev could have been celebrated for involuntarily opening a path towards Ukraine’s independence, but the government is still mute, a day after the death of the Soviet Union’s gravedigger, whose mother and wife were of Ukrainian origin.

Ukrainians walking through the streets of Kyiv on Wednesday did not mince their words about the leader of the “occupying” and “imperialist” Soviet power dubbed by Western admirers as Gorby.

“I’m very happy he died. The more enemies and their supporters die, the happier I’ll be,” 32-year-old Oleksandr Stepanov said.

The visible hostility of Ukrainians towards Gorbachev also stems from his silence regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Only one member of his close circle, Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov, said last July that Gorbachev was “disappointed, of course.”

Even worse, Gorbachev said he “approved” Moscow’s annexation of Crimea to Russia in 2014.

Kyiv never forgave him for that.

Russian imperialist

In some countries that spent years under Soviet rule, he is nothing more than another Russian imperialist who used force to deter nations seeking independence in the early 1990s.

Lithuanian psychologist Robertas Povilaitis considers Gorbachev personally responsible for the 1991 deadly Soviet assault that killed his father and 13 other civilians and wounded more than 700 others.

He expressed disappointment in the response of some politicians to his death, including European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen’s praise of Gorbachev as a “trusted and respected leader.”

“Even though Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are full-fledged members of the EU, she doesn’t have enough empathy or understanding that this person participated in organising the slaughter of current EU citizens,” Povilaitis said.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas wrote on Facebook, “He was a criminal who ordered a ruthless crackdown on peaceful protests in Vilnius, Tbilisi, Almaty, Baku and other cities. There was no remorse.”

Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said, “His soldiers fired on our unarmed protestors and crushed them under his tanks. That is how we will remember him.”

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