Crushers-long-lived. How Kerensky and Gorbachev became Russian champions

Plot World History with Andrey Sidorchik

History is full of paradoxes. The first and last president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev set a record for life expectancy among domestic rulers — before him, no one managed to live to be 91 years old.

The previous record holder was the head of the Provisional Government Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky, who passed away at the age of 89 years. The paradox is that both centenarians eventually turned out to be extremely unpopular people in the country they led, and it is rather difficult to evaluate the results of their activities with a plus sign.

Simbirsk — Tashkent — Petersburg

Kerensky was born in the city of Simbirsk on May 4, 1881, in the family of the director of the Simbirsk Men's Gymnasium Fyodor Mikhailovich Kerensky.

Sasha was a long-awaited son, born after three daughters, because the parents tried to surround the boy with maximum care and attention.

In 1889, Fyodor Kerensky was transferred to work in Tashkent, where his eldest son went to school. Alexander was a capable student, a brilliant dancer, and excelled in amateur performances. After graduating from the Tashkent gymnasium, Alexander entered the law faculty of St. Petersburg University.

Order bearer enters without exams

Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931 in the village of Privolnoye, Medvezhensky District, Stavropol Territory, into a peasant family. Father, Sergei Andreevich Gorbachev, went through the war, was awarded orders and medals. Mikhail, like most children of that time, had to go to work early. At the age of 13, he already helped on a collective farm, at 15 he became an assistant combine operator, and at 18 he received an order for successful grain harvesting.

After graduating from school at 19, Mikhail entered the law faculty of Moscow State University. They accepted him there without exams as a communist and an order bearer.

Lawyer and prosecutor

Two of our heroes, having plunged into jurisprudence, were engaged in it, as they say, from different sides. Kerensky began and excelled in his career as a lawyer, while willingly taking on the political cases that brought him fame. 

In 1912, a successful lawyer headed the Public Commission of the State Duma to investigate the Lena massacre, thereby initiating his political career.

Gorbachev began working in the Stavropol regional prosecutor's office, but he did not become a formidable prosecutor — very quickly he switched to a freed Komsomol job, became deputy head of the Department of Agitation and Propaganda of the Stavropol Territory Committee of the Komsomol.

Speech deputy

Kerensky's career in politics was impetuous, in keeping with the spirit of the times. Having been elected to the IV State Duma and having fallen into the Trudoviks faction, he became known as the best orator of the left camp. His critical speeches addressed to the government were a great success. In December 1916, Kerensky's speeches in the State Duma became so radical that Empress Alexandra Feodorovnanoticed: it is desirable to hang this politician. But in just a couple of months, the practically namesake of the empress will become one of the main active figures of the February Revolution.

Youth as the main talent

Gorbachev's path in politics, in accordance with the spirit of the times, was much less hasty. Having reached the position of the main Komsomol leader of Stavropol by the beginning of the 1960s, Mikhail finally migrated to the party bodies. They saw him as a promising leader, and in 1966 Gorbachev was approved as the first secretary of the Stavropol city committee of the CPSU. The then head of StavropolLeonid Efremovlater he assured that he himself did not see any special prospects for Mikhail Sergeyevich, but he was actively supported from Moscow. In 1970, Gorbachev became the first secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee of the CPSU.

Against the background of senior functionaries, Mikhail Sergeevich looked like a “new generation”, and therefore he was often considered a candidate for further promotion. Moreover, the positions were very different — from the Minister of Agriculture to the Prosecutor General of the USSR. It seems that Gorbachev especially impressed the members of the Politburo with his liveliness and health. In 1978, he was transferred to Moscow to the vacant post of secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

In the 1980 Olympic year, Gorbachev became a full member of the Politburo, and therefore a potential contender for the highest state post. Three deaths of general secretaries in a row from 1982 to 1985 exhausted both the society and the party, and therefore the arrival of the 54-year-old and not suffering from chronic illnesses Gorbachev to the post of leader looked like a rather logical decision.

People's love and disappointment

However, Kerensky reached the political summit of a much younger man.

He took the post of Minister-Chairman of the Provisional Government at the age of 36, having managed to literally fly through the posts of Minister of Justice before that. , as well as the Minister of the Navy and the War.

And here we find the common — both Kerensky and Gorbachev had the art of communicating with people. Of course as a speaker Kerensky was an order of magnitude stronger, having a downright magnetic effect on the audience. With Gorbachev, everything played rather in contrast with the predecessors — before him, none of the Soviet leaders since the time of Lenin communicated with the masses on an equal footing and in a simple way.

But this strength turned into weakness for both, because bright words were not followed by equally bright deeds.

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Both of them came to power at a critical period, only in 1917 everything happened at a much faster pace. The crisis in Russia after the fall of the monarchy developed rapidly, and quick and precise decisions were required from Kerensky.

But the slogan “War to a victorious end” turned into a failure at the front, the defeat of the speeches of the left led to the growth of right-wing sentiments, which turned into a speech by Kornilov. Kerensky, seriously frightened by the military dictatorship, turned for help to those with whom he had fought a month ago, and as a result, by the autumn of 1917, he managed to disappoint almost everyone.

Get out!

Six years of Gorbachev's reign — the same story, only at a slower pace. Attempts at political and economic reform only exacerbate the crisis, radicals demanding a change in the system are dissatisfied with the softness of Mikhail Sergeyevich’s actions, and conservatives, primarily the military, after refusing to support tough actions against extremists, begin to consider him a traitor.

With a rather serious assumption, one can compare the State Emergency Committee and the Kornilov rebellion. And even if in the first case Gorbachev was a completely static figure, who was only waiting for the outcome of the development of events, and Kerensky made efforts to stop the military action, the result turned out to be the same. One in the fall of 1917, and the second in the fall of 1991 turned, as they say in the West, into “lame ducks” that once lost such mass popular support.

The October Revolution of 1917, with the notorious escape in women's dress that never happened, drew a line under Kerensky's rule. The anti-Bolshevik forces that participated in the Civil War categorically did not perceive him as a serious figure.

Gorbachev finally lost power after the Belovezhskaya conspiracy, and then the same picture — opponents of the destroyers of the USSR did not perceive the Secretary General-President as a figure capable of leading the resistance. Yes, and Mikhail Sergeevich did not resist, unlike Alexander Fedorovich — the latter at least gathered troops and tried to do something, while Gorbachev surrendered without a fight.

0.51 percent

This complaisance allowed him to receive certain preferences as a retiree and remain in the country, while Kerensky was forced to flee abroad.

There, for the first time, he tried to negotiate an intervention to overthrow the Bolsheviks. However, the former head of the Provisional Government, deprived of influence, very soon became mired in squabbles and intrigues of the Russian emigration. Many emigrants considered Kerensky to be the culprit of the fall of the Russian Empire and all subsequent upheavals, which is why the attitude towards him was more than cool.

It seems that Alexander Fedorovich quickly realized the impossibility of his political return. But Mikhail Sergeevich amused his compatriots a lot by the fact that in 1996 he took part in the presidential elections in Russia. Gorbachev was sincerely convinced that against the backdrop of the Yeltsin catastrophe, he would be treated with great sympathy. 0.51 percent of the votes became a real political verdict, after which Mikhail Sergeevich finally turned into a pensioner.

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Misha Gorbachev with his grandfather Panteley and grandmother Vasilisa, late 1930s – early 1940s. © Public Domain/Misha Gorbachev with grandfather Pantelei and grandmother Vasilisa

Gorbachev visiting a pig farm in the GDR, 1966 © Commons.wikimedia.org/German Federal Archives

Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev an hour before being elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, 1985 © RIA Novosti/Boris Kaufman

Gorbachev and his wife Raisa are preparing to fly to Moscow after completing their official visit to France, 1985 © RIA Novosti/Yuri Abramochkin

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Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin and General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, President of the USSR Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev at the 4th Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR. 1990 © RIA Novosti/Vitaly Savelyev ” height=”531″ width=”800″ style=”display: block;” />

Mikhail Gorbachev at a press conference after the suppression of the putsch on August 19-22, 1991. © RIA Novosti/Dmitry Donskoy “531” width=”800″ style=”display: block;” />

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Mikhail Gorbachev at the parade in honor of the 74th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, May 9, 2019 © Commons.wikimedia.org/duma.gov.ru < /i>

Mikhail Gorbachev — from Komsomol member to All-Russian pensioner

Misha Gorbachev with his grandfather Panteley and grandmother Vasilisa, late 1930s – early 1940s. © Public Domain/Misha Gorbachev with grandfather Pantelei and grandmother Vasilisa

Gorbachev visiting a pig farm in the GDR, 1966 © Commons.wikimedia.org/German Federal Archives

Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev an hour before being elected General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, 1985 © RIA Novosti/Boris Kaufman

Gorbachev and his wife Raisa are preparing to fly to Moscow after completing their official visit to France, 1985 © RIA Novosti/Yuri Abramochkin

Mikhail Gorbachev on the podium of the Mausoleum during a demonstration on International Workers' Day, 1985 © RIA Novosti/Yuri Abramochkin

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, 1985 © www.globallookpress.com/Sammy Minkoff, via www.imago-ima

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in Geneva, 1986 © www.globallookpress.com/Global Look Press

Mikhail Gorbachev and Wojciech Jaruzelski, 1986 © www.globallookpress.com/TADEUSZ ZAGOZDZINSKI

Erich Honecker and Mikhail Gorbachev. The famous kiss © www.globallookpress.com/imago stock&people

With Nicolae Ceausescu, 1987 © RIA Novosti/Runov

Mikhail Gorbachev in Prague, 1987 © www.globallookpress.com/Karel Mevald

Life magazine cover, 1987 © www.globallookpress.com/imago stock&people via www.imago

Reagan, Bush, and Gorbachev in New York, 1988 © www.globallookpress.com/White House/Planet Pix

Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl, 1989 © www.globallookpress.com/imago stock&people via www.imago png” height=”531″ width=”800″ style=”display: block;” />

Streets of Berlin, 1989 © www.globallookpress.com/Thomas Uhlemann

At a meeting with George W. Bush, 1990 © www.globallookpress.com/Dennis Brack =”531″ width=”800″ style=”display: block;” />

Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin and General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, President of the USSR Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev at the 4th Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR. 1990 © RIA Novosti/Vitaly Saveliev

Mikhail Gorbachev at a press conference after the suppression of the putsch on August 19-22, 1991. © RIA Novosti/Dmitry Donskoy :block;” />

Reagan and Gorbachev relaxing at the Reagan Ranch in California, 1992 © Public Domain

© www.globallookpress.com/Gennadii Sergeev =”display: block;” />

Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin, 2001 © Commons.wikimedia.org/Presidential Press and Information Office

With Angela Merkel, 2011 © www.globallookpress.com/Jesco Denzel

Mikhail Gorbachev at the parade in honor of the 74th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, May 9, 2019 © Commons.wikimedia.org/duma.gov.ru

Gynecological humiliation

In 1939, Kerensky, who lived in France, married an Australian journalist Lydia Tritton, and after the occupation of France by Hitler, he left for the USA.

Beginning in the late 1940s, the widowed Kerensky wrote memoirs and lectured students on Russian history. In the late 1960s, Kerensky, in his late 80s, tried to get permission to travel to the Soviet Union, but negotiations ended in vain. At the very end of life, the story with the dress was continued — the ambulance, having taken the elderly Russian emigrant, for a long time could not find a place where to attach a low-income patient, since there were no empty places in the free clinic.

When Kerensky woke up, he, to his horror, found that he had been placed on free bed… in the gynecology department. And although the veteran of Russian politics was soon transferred from there, Kerensky considered this a humiliation no less than the myth of his escape in October 1917.

In general, Alexander Fedorovich could have lived longer. But in 1970, in the clinic, Kerensky refused to eat, and when doctors began to inject a nutrient solution through a needle, the patient began to pull it out. Such a struggle between him and the doctors dragged on for two and a half months. On June 11, 1970, Kerensky passed away.

Yeltsin harvesting bananas

Unlike Kerensky,  Gorbachev, no one dragged — he received top notch medical care. He was warmly welcomed in the West, where he was perceived as a hero, and in his homeland, although he was considered a negative figure, he was not subjected to persecution and led a completely comfortable life.

Sometimes annoyance broke through in Mikhail Sergeyevich, and then he began to resemble Kerensky even in rhetoric. So, once in an interview with Pozner, he admitted that he regrets that “I did not sendYeltsinforever to some country to harvest bananas after the well-known trials, when the Plenum demanded:”Exclude Yeltsin from the members of the Central Committee! ”»

Dress and pizza

Both Kerensky and Gorbachev outlived all their political opponents for a long time. This is both their main and indisputable achievement. At the same time, both were considered destroyers of statehood, although the “merits” Kerensky in this sense, objectively speaking, is an order of magnitude smaller than Gorbachev's.

What you can be sure of is that they will not fall into the main characters of Russian history. On the other hand, one can imagine such a memorable composition: Mikhail Sergeevich gallantly treats Alexander Fedorovich, dressed in a flirtatious woman's dress, with pizza.

Because you can not only enter history, but also plunge into it.

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