On Thursday 29 September, PolSoc met to reflect on the legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev, led by Joystna Kumar and Chioma Ekeowa in the Upper Sixth. 

Kick starting the talk, Joystna and Chioma gave a presentation, explaining how Gorbachev climbed through the ranks of the Soviet Party, and set out the many accomplishments of Gorbachev’s political career. The list includes signing the INF treaty with the United States in 1987, which meant that both countries would eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional missiles, thus consolidating a secure relationship with the Western world. Gorbachev also tried to establish democracy and a free market to a totalitarian state, risking his career.  

After the presentation, students discussed how Gorbachev was viewed in Russia and how Putin’s non attendance at his funeral sent a strong message to his citizens. Those attending agreed that, sadly, Gorbachev’s efforts to modernise Russia were hampered by an  economic crisis, which he failed to control in the early 1990s.We rounded of our reflections by considering whether the West were partly responsible for not seizing opportunities to improve relations with Russia since the end of the Cold War.