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A presidential companion
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-10-21 10:50:05
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What is more tempting to write about: Mr. Sarkozy’s divorce or Mikhail Gorbachev’s return to politics with a new political movement in Russia? I will try to avoid the semantics and similarities in both cases but let’s see what makes them so interesting news.

First, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former USSR president; the man Russians hate and the rest of the world admires. The man who brought new words in our vocabulary such as glasnost, perestroika words that took soon an international meaning and they have been often used since then. Somehow the man took transparency so far to leave the big bear naked in the end.

It took months for the great USSR Empire to fall like a sandcastle and the Russians to see all the old glories lost in the wind. It didn’t matter if the people were communists, nationalists, liberals or whatever else. For decades they had the feeling that they were citizens of a big country that ruled in many ways, military, science, sports, art; and then there was nothing if not financial ruins and mafia.

What followed Gorbachev was a long insecure situation that hasn’t improved much with Char Putin – the mafia is still there, corruption rules Russian life and the former Soviet democracies might enjoy their freedom but at the same time they realize how much and for how long they were depending on Mother Moscow. The man I met one evening in Paris after a speech and conference was a man that had put on line due to his strong believes for a democratic change in Russia his political and personal future and he lost them both.

Far more, in his struggle the most crucial moment on his personal and political way down was when he lost his long companion Raisa. For the ones who remember the days of 1991 when the gang of the eight tried to take over the USSR with a coup, will remember Raisa’s face on all the news bulletins while she was holding Mikhail when their plane landed in Moscow after all the events.

Raisa, and as Mikhail often admits that he’s missing her, was his strength. She was the proof of an old saying that behind every glorious man there is a woman. As he said that evening in Paris, she was his insurance that in the end everything will be fine and I had a feeling that his usually his very energetic eyes sadden for a minute. Raisa was not Evita Peron, Raisa was a woman of duty, she was there for Mikhail knowing that her husband had dedicated his life to Russia and for the ones who had the privilege to meet Mikhail and the late Raisa we know that something changed with Mikhail after she’s died.

Would you say the same about Nicolas and Cecilia? There are no stereotypes in a divorce couple and it doesn’t matter how high-profile this couple's standing. The president of the French democracy is getting divorced and this has been in the tabloids all around the world. Cecilia used as an excuse the growing interest of the media for every part of her life; she said that all her life she ‘wanted to live in the shadows’ not in the front of lights. I find that hard to believe, especially when it comes from a former fashion model, a woman who is trained to be in the spotlight all the time.

I have nothing against Cecilia and her actions, it is just that I don’t understand the excuses and I’m not a hypocrite on ethics, since I carry a divorce myself and I know well how many things change in a couple after some years, but then at least you are honest with your reasoning so then acceptance becomes equally easy.

I’m not comparing Raisa with Cecilia, something like that would have been very unfair for both ladies for a number of different reasons, but I really want to see how much this story will influence Nicolas because the death of Raisa has definitely influenced Mikhail. Cecilia of course is not dead and most likely because of the kids Nicolas will see her often, still the lack of the long companion must mean something for the first citizen of the French republic and what is only left is for us to see how much it will change him.

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