Gorbachev returns to the world stage - as columnist

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The Independent Online

Fifteen years after he stood down as the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev is to return to the international arena as a journalist.

The 75-year-old statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner will write a monthly column that will be reprinted in newspapers around the world. His first article will appear later this month under the terms of a deal he has struck with The New York Times Syndicate.

Since leaving public office, Mr Gorbachev has created a Moscow-based think tank, the Gorbachev Foundation, which promotes study and debate on international issues such as globalisation, climate change, weapons of mass destruction, and poverty. The former Communist leader is likely to take up those issues in his columns.

"In his first article Gorbachev will analyse the results of 2006 and later he will be answering questions from readers," said a spokesman for the foundation.

Since the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, Mr Gorbachev has struggled to find a role for himself in Russia, largely because many Russians blame him for the economic hardship that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and were upset that he did not do more to prevent it unravelling. When he stood as a candidate in presidential elections in 1996, he received just 1 per cent of the vote.

Mr Gorbachev first showed a public interest in journalism in 1993 when he used some of his 1990 Nobel award to help set up a bi-weekly investigative newspaper called Novaya Gazeta, the publication that employed Anna Politkovskaya, the reporter who was murdered last October.