Monday, Dec. 15, 2008

The Soviet Slap

While the fall of the Soviet Union was cheered on by the U.S. and Western Europe, back in Russia many were less than pleased with the man who brought down the Iron Curtain, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. In the aftermath of 1980s reforms instituted by Gorbachev — including perestroika and glasnost — the former president decided to run for the office again in 1996. His ambition to be president was not well-received. At a campaign stop in the Siberian city of Omsk, an unemployed 29-year-old man got close enough to Gorbachev to slap him in the face. The man reportedly told police he assaulted the former Soviet leader because he felt Gorbachev's domestic reforms had destroyed Russia. A court later ordered that the slapper get psychiatric treatment, although one Russian politician reportedly said of him, "He did what many dream of."