Gorbachev to receive 2008 Liberty Medal

June 13, 2008 11:54:35 AM PDT
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev will be awarded the 2008 Liberty Medal for his role in helping to end the Cold War. Gorbachev also gave hope to those living behind the Iron Curtain, National Constitution Center officials said in announcing the award Friday.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who attended the announcement, said that when Gorbachev took control of the Soviet Union in 1985 the changes were felt all over the world.

"'Glasnost' and 'perestroika' became part of the American lexicon," Nutter said, using the Russian words Gorbachev popularized that are usually translated as "openness" and "restructuring."

Gorbachev is set to receive the award Sept. 18 at the Constitution Center. It will be presented by former President George H.W. Bush, who was leading the United States at the time the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Bush is chairman of the board of the Constitution Center; he was awarded the Liberty Medal in 2006, along with former President Bill Clinton, for their efforts to aid Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina through the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

The National Constitution Center gives the annual award to individuals or organizations whose actions represent the founding principles of the United States. The medal was first awarded in 1989.

Constitution Center President Joseph M. Torsella recalled Friday how Gorbachev phoned Bush as the Soviet flag was being lowered at the Kremlin for the last time.

"He wanted reassurance from his trusted and valuable friend that he was doing the right thing," Torsella said.

Since leaving government, Gorbachev launched Green Cross International, a nonprofit that works on global ecological law. He is also the president of the Gorbachev Foundation, which conducts political and economic research.


On the Net: http://www.constitutioncenter.org/