Mikhail Gorbachev to celebrate 80th birthday with family, friends
His controversial image...
Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev will celebrate his 80th birthday on Wednesday in a low-key atmosphere, surrounded by family and friends in Moscow, according to RIA Novosti.
Gorbachev, the so-called "architect of perestroika and glasnost in Russia," is still worshiped by some Russians for bringing freedom and democracy to the country, while many others consider him a weak politician, who ruined the Soviet empire.
His controversial image in Russia could be one of the reasons why the main celebrations of his birthday will take place later in March in the West, where he is seen as a symbol of the liberalization of Soviet life and the ending of the Cold War.
The London Royal Albert Hall gala concert on March 30 will feature performances by Scorpions, Brian Ferry, Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, Belgium`s Lara Fabian, Russia`s baritone Dmitry Khvorostovsky, and ex-Spice Girls Melanie C.
Hollywood star Sharon Stone will host the event.
Gorbachev will award for the first time his eponymous prize "The Man who changed the world".
All proceeds from the event will go to charity programs.
Gorbachev was the seventh and last leader of the Soviet Union and is well known for his reform attempts, which led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.