Gorbachev blames Bush for icy relations

Sept. 18, 2008 at 2:50 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who received the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia Thursday, blames the Bush administration for frosty U.S.-Russian relations.

The current U.S. president's father, George H.W. Bush, was to present the medal to Gorbachev, with whom he struck a friendship as the Cold War ended, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Liberty Medal recognizes leadership in the pursuit of freedom.

In an interview Wednesday, Gorbachev alluded to some of the themes he would touch on during his acceptance speech, including blaming the current Bush administration for the downturn in U.S. relations with Russia.

"This administration wants everyone to follow suit, allies and others," Gorbachev told the Inquirer. "America needs its own perestroika," or restructuring, the signature of his tenure as the Soviet Union's last leader.

"You have to open your windows more often," Gorbachev said. "The world is different. There must be the beginning of change."

No one is saying Gorbachev shouldn't receive the Liberty Medal, or its $100,000 prize, despite criticizing the United States.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Gorbachev's comments didn't concern him.

"I'm not surprised to see Mr. Gorbachev support his country," Specter said.

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