10 key quotes from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union


ne of the most famous quotes related to Mikhail Gorbachev is one that he didn’t say: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

However, the last leader of the Soviet Union had plenty to say for himself, winning the Novel Peace Prize in 1990, and continuing to voice opinions about global politics and social issues well after the Soviet Union was dissolved.

Following his death on August 30, 2022 at the age of 91, here’s a look at some of his most famous quotations.

10 key quotes from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union

  1. “Never before has so terrible a threat loomed so large and dark over mankind as these days. The only reasonable way out of the existing situation is agreement of the confronting forces on an immediate termination of the race in arms, above all, nuclear arms, on Earth and its prevention in Space. An agreement on an honest and equitable basis, without attempts at outplaying the other side and dictating terms to it. An agreement which would help all to advance towards the cherished goal: the complete elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons for good, towards the complete removal of the threat of nuclear war. This is our firm conviction.” – Speech to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, March 11, 1985
  2. “Democracy is the wholesome and pure air without which a socialist public organisation cannot live a full-blooded life.” – Speech to the 27th Party Congress, Moscow, February 25, 1986
  3. “The accident at Chernobyl showed again what an abyss will open if nuclear war befalls mankind. For inherent in the nuclear arsenals stockpiled are thousands upon thousands of disasters far more horrible than the Chernobyl one.”

    Speech on the Chernobyl accident, May 15, 1986

  4. “Why not?” – When asked by a reporter if he thought the Berlin Wall should be dismantled in May 1989, as quoted in How Reagan and Gorbachev sowed ‘seeds of freedom’ in the National Post on November 6, 2009
  5. “In the name of Communism, we abandoned basic human values. So, when I came to power in Russia, I started to restore those values; values of openness and freedom.” – Interview with Fred Master in Resurgence No. 184, September-October 1997
  6. “Today, peace means the ascent from simple coexistence to co-operation and common creativity among countries and nations. Peace is movement towards globality and universality of civilisation. Never before has the idea that peace is indivisible been so true as it is now. Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.” – Nobel address, June 5, 1991
  7. “Have we not been able to cross the threshold of mistrust, though mistrust has not completely disappeared? Has not the political thinking in the world changed substantially? Does not most of the world community already regard weapons of mass destruction as unacceptable for achieving political objectives?” – Nobel Address, June 5, 1991
  8. “If what you have done yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.” – quoted in 101 Best Ways to Get Ahead: Solid Gold Advice from 101 of the World’s Most Successful People, 2004, by Michael E. Angier and Sarah Pond
  9. “We had 10 years after the Cold War to build a new world order and yet we squandered them. The United States cannot tolerate anyone acting independently. Every U.S. president has to have a war.” – as quoted in an interview with The London Daily Telegraph, May 7, 2008
  10. “My life’s work has been accomplished. I did all that I could.” – The Observer [London], December 15, 1991

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