Russian tributes to the wife of Mikhail Gorbachev and former Soviet First Lady following her death this week
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The Independent Culture
Nezavisimaya Gazeta

THIS WOMAN died suffering. She displayed courage, thinking about the people to whom she dedicated her whole life. She understood her role as that of her husband's "alter ego"; to support him in his mission as the biggest reform-maker to influence the whole world and who made it more human. She became the first lady of our country and she played her role with dignity. She helped people in trouble - charity was a necessity for her. It is a sad irony that she paid special attention to the struggle against leukaemia.


RAISA MAXIMOVNA became the first wife of the head of the Soviet state to break the principle "don't stand out". But in her own country this attitude was met with a lack of understanding, even hostility, from party officials and "ordinary citizens" shocked to see a real first lady who could dress with taste. Envy followed her until August 1991 when people saw her as a woman who supported her husband during his isolation in Foros. Yes, she made mistakes. But what she did overbalances all reproaches. She will remain in history as an honest person. Loss of her position as a first lady did not break her. She did so much to help Chernobyl children, schools and orphanages. People who knew her remember her as an outstanding woman. Woman with a capital letter.


THE FIRST inclination of perestroika came with a General Secretary who could speak without reading from a paper in his hands. The second was his wife, a nice woman always by his side. The Gorbachevs broke Stalin's tradition to keep the wives of the leaders out of the public eye. They committed a mini-revolution. They caused respect and irritation in the realm of public opinion just because they made their mini-revolution and we did not. This Russian family stayed together after losing their position and supported each other through all troubles. They were together until the very end. It is not only his personal loss. We will always remember her. She showed the world another Russia.


RAISA GORBACHEV was the first Soviet woman to become a real first lady. And she remains the last first lady. Hers was the nicest Kremlin face in the passing century. She was lucky to have her husband but he was also lucky to have her. It was the strangest Kremlin couple one can imagine: they looked decent and behaved decently in everyday life.