Alone and sick with Alzheimer’s: the sad old age of Gorbachev –

The last president of the USSR lives in front of a lake in Germany, accompanied by two bodyguards and a housekeeper. All the glory, at 91, was left behind

On his last birthday, celebrated in the splendid house that his family bought in 2006, on the outskirts of Berlin, right in front of Lake Tegernsee, Gorbachev received a telegram from Putin. With a sneer, she listened as one of her nurses read aloud: “You belong, of course, to that category of extraordinary people, outstanding statesmen of the modern era who exerted a notable influence on national and world history” In Russia there are those who despise and admire Gorby. Some recognize that, thanks to his Perestroika, the economic measures that ended the Soviet Union, he returned democratic freedom to Russia. Others believe that he was incompetent, that under his government he sank an empire and that believing that democracy exists in Russia is a fallacy that Putin’s dictatorship revealed.

Born in the North Caucasus, in the Stavropol region, he was one of those peasants, like Nikita Khrushchev, who became president of a superpower thanks to communism. In his youth he was hungry and always remembered how his grandfather accompanied him to stand by a river and wait for the frogs to jump to catch them and then make a soup. Those were the years of Stalin, the horror spread in all the Socialist Republics, especially Ukraine, a country with which he was merciless and that condemned 30 million of its inhabitants to starve simply and simply because he felt like it.

Gorbachev and his wife Raisa while studying at Moscow State University

When he was 14 years old, he was one of the witnesses of how Hitler betrayed the pact with Stalin and ordered the invasion of his territory in the devastating Operation Barbarossa. His father’s house was invaded by German troops and his father, who served in the Russian army, was seriously injured. Against all odds, the scorched earth tactic helped to repel the invader and the Soviets counterattacked after prevailing in fierce battles such as Stalingrad, a siege that the Russians were able to withstand for 18 months. In the end, Stalin’s troops knew how to beat the Germans, take advantage of the tactical advantages that the cruelest of winters gave them, and reached Berlin and the ruins of the Reich. Hitler, under his offense, ended up committing suicide along with his wife, Eva Braun, and his German shepherd Blondie.

In 1948 the Russians were trying to move on. The Nazis were gone but Stalin and his regime of terror remained. At that time the wounds left by the war were closing and, together with his father, they managed to harvest 800,000 kilos of grain throughout that year. He was decorated and, although he suffered from cramps all his life due to the physical effort that the feat represented, he would not have been able to enter Moscow State University without that achievement. At the age of 19, he met for the first time what would be his home, the capital of the empire. At that university he met Raisa, the love of his life.

In 2005, shortly before Alzheimer’s began to attack him, he confessed on a television program, after asking him about which historical figure he wanted to meet and Gorby, overcome by tears, replied that Raisa, his wife.

They married in 1954 and were so poor that they had to borrow white shoes to complete their wedding attire. Raisa graduated from Moscow State University with her thesis, The Emergence of New Characteristics in the Daily Life of the Collective Agricultural Peasantry, and, while first lady of the USSR, had a touch of distinction that was first envied in the West. One of the couple’s entertainments was to walk together, which is why Gorbachev told Esquire at the time, in an interview, that since Raisa had died he had stopped walking. In this photo Gorbachev has just released a love album for his wife Raisa who died in 1999 of cancer.

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Gorbachev left power on December 29, 1991. During his mandate, the USSR experienced an incipient modernization and an abrupt fall, with disasters as terrible as the explosion of the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Two days after ceasing to be president, the Soviet Union collapsed. He has since taken refuge in Germany. Currently, despite the illness, he has a foundation that bears his surname and is managed by his two granddaughters, Ksenia and Anastasia. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, protagonist of a Pizza Hut advertisement in which he received a million dollars for appearing for two minutes, Gorbachev lives accompanied by two bodyguards and a housekeeper, practically confined to his room with a view of the lake, he gets up sacredly at six in the morning and tries to do, according to his biographer Francisco Herranz, the same stretching exercises that his cat does before getting up. Every day he fails laughing.

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Alone and sick with Alzheimer’s: the sad old age of Gorbachev –