NEW YORK -- Time magazine named Mikhail Gorbachev its 'Man of the Decade' Saturday, calling the Soviet leader 'the force behind the most momentous events of the 80s' and the man responsible for ending the Cold War.
'In novel alliance with the glasnost of world communications, Gorbachev became the patron of change: Big Brother's better twin,' the magazine said.
The Soviet premier, named Time's 'Man of the Year' in 1987, was hailed for symbolizing 'change and hope for a stagnant system, motion, creativity, and amazing equilibrium, a gift for improvising a stylish performance as he hand-glides across an abyss.'
'He has made possible the end of the Cold War and diminished the danger that a hot war will ever break out between the two superpowers,' the magazine said.
It was only the second time in the magazine's 63-year history that it departed from its usual 'Man of the Year' designation. The first was in 1949, when Winston Churchill was named 'Man of the Half-Century.'
'It became clear that we were witnessing a series of events that began well before 1989 and whose impact would extend well into the next decade, perhaps the next century,' the magazine said. 'Somehow, confining our choice to 1989 seemed inadequate.'
Gorbachev, who first came to power in 1985 when he replaced Yuri Andropov, was hailed from the start as the first of a younger generation of Soviet leaders who would lift the country from economic stagnation.
The magazine said Gorbachev consigned to 'the ash heap of history' the hard-line strategies of his country's old communist order.
He was the first Soviet leader to meet with the pope, and tacitly encouraged fledgling democracy movements in Eastern Europe.
Time credited Gorbachev with shattering the Soviet empire, changing its relationship with the rest of the world, and altering the nature of the empire itself.
'Gorbachev has embarked on a course, perhaps now irreversible, that is reshaping the world,' the magazine said. 'He is seeking to mend the ways of government that was not just bad or inept, but inherently, profoundly destructive.'
But the magazine noted that Gorbachev is not an anti-communist.
'He does not mean to abolish communism,' the magazine said. 'On the contrary, he wants to save it by transforming it.'
'Gorbachev is a sort of Zen genius of survival,' Time said. 'He has a way of turning desperate necessities into opportunities and even virtues.'
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