Philadelphia Daily News, Sept. 19, 2008. By Stephanie Farr
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev accepted the 2008 Liberty Medal last night at the National Constitution Center after delivering a sharp rebuttal to remarks made earlier in the day by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"Let me make my own remarks," Gorbachev said, through his interpreter.
"I believe the secretary of state should be more careful and show greater calm and responsibility with her judgment.
"Calling other countries to unite against Russia is something I don't accept."
Gorbachev was responding to a speech on U.S.-Russian relations made by Rice earlier in the day in Washington, including comments that Russia is "on a one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance."
But, from the upbeat reception Gorbachev received at the National Constitution Center, it appeared that Russia and its former leader are anything but irrelevant.
Gorbachev, who believes that Georgia, not Russia, was the aggressor in the recent South Ossetian conflict, said that he learned of Rice's remarks following an afternoon lunch in Philadelphia with the chairman of the National Constitution Center, former President George H.W. Bush.
"We agreed this is probably a difficult time in our relationships, but we both hope this will pass," Gorbachev said of the former leaders' lunchtime conversation.
A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Gorbachev was honored with the 20th Liberty Medal for his role in ending the Cold War and bringing "glasnost," or political openness, to the former Soviet Union.
"He knew it was up to him to lead this revolution," Mayor Nutter said.
Gorbachev Honored With Liberty Medal