My favorite foreign story of the week

Mikhail Gorbachev, left, the former Soviet leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, acknowledges the audience after being presented with the 2008 Liberty Medal by former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Chairman of the National Constitution Center, during a ceremony at the center, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008, in Philadelphia. Gorbachev is being honored for his role in ending the Cold War. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Here’s my pick for most interesting foreign news story of the week – and it isn’t the absurd and dangerous posturing of Kim Jong-un.

It’s the sharp verbal jab delivered on Monday by ailing Mikhail Gorbachev to the pretensions of Vladimir Putin. Although Gorbie is frail and ailing, he denounced Putin for curtailing freedoms and curbing civil society. Mr. Putin, he said, had adopted “a ruinous and hopeless path.”

Gorbachev changed world history when he chose, in 1989, not to order the East Germans (still under Soviet control) to fire on the Berlin wall-jumpers. The Soviet leader thought he could reform communism, and he failed to grasp that the sclerotic communist system was beyond reforming. But he understands now that Russia can't move forward under Putin’s new tsar-ism.

“Politics is more and more turning into an imitation,” he said of Putin’s Kremlin, in a speech in Moscow on Monday. “All power is in the hands of the executive. The Parliament only seals its decisions. Judicial power is not independent. The economy is monopolized, hooked to the oil and gas needle. Entrepreneurs” initiative is curbed. Small and medium businesses face huge barriers.”

No one could better have described the new, corrupt political system that is thwarting the Russia’s great potential. Putin’s aides denounces Gorbie for having “lost the country” but in reality it is Putin who is dragging Russia down.

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