Both my husband and I have been working with the former Soviet Union since 1986 and with Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev.
[Recently] we learned of Raisa Gorbachev’s death in Muenster, Germany, and we wanted to share a few thoughts.
The last time we saw both of them together was in March this year in Los Angeles and as always we were reminded of the friendship and long lasting love between the couple and how they had survived together. Both of them were vibrant, full of life and humor. We have 4-year-old son who was so taken with both of them but especially with Raisa Gorbachev. She was a very warm, gentle as well as a very strong woman.
Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev were really a pair and took a path together for life. Mikhail Gorbachev has done a lot for the world and has been vilified for his part especially in Russia. And now for him to lose his life partner who was always by his side, shared his thoughts and knew him as none other, is something the future will decide for him. When we asked him about Raisa in one of our meetings, he said to us that they were best friends and life partners and everything he is and had done was due to her and their love for each other and their love for Russia and the Russian people. And his words were, “There’s always a strong woman beside a successful man.”
Tributes are coming in from across the world including the pope, who said in a message, “I send my heartfelt condolences, commending Raisa Maximovna Gorbachev to almighty God’s eternal love.” This would have been almost unthinkable for Gorbachev’s predecessors at the head of the atheist Communist system
I hope that the Russian women realize the gift Raisa Gorbachev gave them. She made it possible for Russian women to be seen and to be heard. Raisa’s bold break with the tradition of the unseen Kremlin wife and her Western tastes did not sit kindly with the Russian people and she was criticized in Russia but the West loved her style. This is a huge loss for the world, the Russian people and the dynamic power behind the peace and the dreams in the world.
All you have to do is look at Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and other countries in the former Soviet Union. The people have hope and the kids have dreams for their future. In Russia, it has taken longer. Life is very hard for the older generation but the young are slowly starting to realize that there may be hope for the future. Time will tell if the Russian people are capable of choosing someone they can look up to as their hero who is honest and cares about Russia instead of his own pocket. Also they have to learn to acknowledge the role of women.
I hope that history will treat Raisa Maximovna Gorbachev with all the respect and accolade due to this beautiful, dynamic woman who was a part of world leadership and had courage to believe in better life for the future generations in this changing world.