By opening up the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellites to the world, and allowing freedom of discussion and decision within it, he brought the Cold War to an end and, perhaps inadvertently, allowed the disintegration of an Empire by enabling its constituents to choose their own future.
An oligarchs’ feeding-frenzy followed under Boris Yeltsin, and then the clock was turned back by Vladimir Putin and hopes of accommodating a new peaceful Russia into an orderly world died as its rulers returned to dreams of Russia as a pre-eminent world power.
The parallels with the UK are striking. Our Empire is gone, but the dream lingers on in the fantasies of those who voted for Brexit and for whom Boris Johnston, Britain’s Yeltsin, spoke. The oligarchs, our overpaid leaders of business, squirrel their money away in the Cayman Islands while the man and woman in the street struggles to keep up with a rising cost of living. A small cabal looks set to wish a leader with the ideas and ambitions of Putin, including a determination not to allow the constituent parts of this Union to go their own way, upon us. All this without offering us a Gorbachev moment.
James Scott, Edinburgh
Winter is coming
Nicola Sturgeon has done herself no favours with the settlement of the council bin strike. Once again we see SNP spin at its worst from the standpoint of specifically “no more money” to “however we can just take extra from somewhere else”. That "somewhere else” also impacts upon public services. Does this not matter?
Placating union muscle has done Ms Sturgeon no good because the teachers will not settle for what is on offer either so what other public services will have to be cut then? The SNP will try and spin this current “win” to be a glorious success by the First Minister in ending a painful strike for the whole nation but this is patently not the case. The winter of discontent is just starting.
Gerald Edwards, Glasgow
The extra mile
Fervent independence supporters The Proclaimers have posted a message on social media "urging everybody to get along to YESTIVAL at George Square on the 18th of September and encourage and move us forward in our fight for independence”.
Unfortunately they can't be there in person. Mind you, “and I would walk the 441 miles from my home in Tunbridge Wells” isn't a very catchy song title.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
Last week there was more light shed on non-stun animal slaughter. We know the current “debate” about unnecessary cruelty pitches Jewish and Muslim religious lobbies against The Farm Animal Welfare Council, The RSPCA and The British Veterinary Association, (which side would you believe?) but now a DEFRA survey has shown significant support (97 per cent) for mandatory labelling of meat from animals slaughtered without stunning.
We would like to see religious doctrine entirely removed as a reason for animal suffering but in the interim, we urge the government to label and allow consumers to choose to avoid such products.
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society
Write to Scotland on Sunday
We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line. Do not send letters submitted elsewhere. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.
Subscribe to The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday here