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Medvedev gives Gorbachev Russia's highest award

Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has decorated Mikhail Gorbachev with the highest state honour, the Andrei Pervozvanny order. The ceremony took place at Medvedev’s Moscow residence on Wednesday, Gorbachev’s 80th birthday.

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"You headed our country in a very difficult, dramatic period," Medvedev said, adding that the decoration was a "symbol of the state's respect".

Many Russians blame Gorbachev for overseeing the demise of the Soviet empire and Medvedev said that his role in history "can be assessed in different ways".

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who once called the Soviet Union's collapse one of the greatest misfortunes of history, sent Gorbachev a personal telegram. He called Gorbachev "one of the eminent statesmen of modernity who made a telling impact on the course of world history and did much to strengthen the authority of Russia”.

Gorbachev used one interview Wednesday to urge Putin against running for another
term as president and to warn of the dangers of Arab-style social revolt.

"How many times have they promised people that they will loosen the screws?" Gorbachev asked in reference to the Russian authorities in the weekly paper Argumenty i Fakty.

He added that the "vertical of power" that the Kremlin has built to oversee the country's politics and economics "has rotted to its core".

Putin and his presidential successor Dmitry Medvedev have often said that they will decide in private which of them will run in selections scheduled for a year’s time.

Gorbachev has previously called such a private selection process "shameful" and accused the pair of acting "as if society, constitution, elections, did not exist".

 

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