Gorbachev: My Wife Is a Very Independent Lady

Educated, attractive and opinionated, Mikhail Gorbachev's closest adviser is a one-woman revolution

It is morning in Moscow, and a conspicuously important visitor, his face half hidden by a fedora, walks into one of the city's factories. He strides up to a worker and introduces himself: "I'm Mikhail Gorbachev."

"Oh!" the worker replies. "I didn't recognize you without your wife."

Not since Czar Nicholas wed Alexandra in 1894 have Russians encountered a ruler's wife with such presence, such personality, such promise as a subject of mild jokes and elevated eyebrows as Raisa Gorbachev. She is the first spouse of a Soviet leader to weigh less than he does, acid tongues have it in Moscow,...

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