The assassination attempt against Gorbachev: See footage from the shooting of the film in Bulgaria

Mikhail Gorbachev lived to be 91 and is the longest-serving head of state in all of Russian history. Today is also a historic day – it marks the funeral of the last president of the USSR. To the man defined as one of the significant personalities of the 20th century. A politician credited with ending the Cold War.

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Gorbachev and the collapse of the last empire of the 20th century (photos)

Since Gorbachev’s death on Tuesday this week around the world, politicians, political scientists, analysts and ordinary citizens around the world have commented on his ambiguous personality. In the West he is a hero, in the East – a traitor. And this is quite understandable. Kremlin spokesman Peskov deftly managed to find the “middle line” between the assessments of the two camps, describing Gorbachev as a desperate romantic, for a long time deluded in the reconciliation between them. But things look one way from the point of view of the political elite, and quite another in the eyes of ordinary people.

One thing is indisputable – that Gorbachev’s life is a dramatic saga of heroism and illusions. And he probably really realized this back in 1991, when a coup attempt was made against him. After that date, Gorbachev voluntarily chose to live away from his homeland for a long time, but he died there.

And the most curious thing is that in the year of the coup in the USSR, episodes of a film with the working title “Crisis in the Kremlin” by director Jonathan Winfrey were shot here in Bulgaria. It tells about an attempt on Gorbachev. The shooting of the spy thriller is in front of the National Theater and the Ministry of Defense.


Gorbachev on screen / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

It also features Bulgarian actors such as Boris Lukanov. The operator is the Bulgarian Krasimir Kostov. After filming in August in Sofia, the team moved to Primorsko, where action shots with helicopters, motorbikes and a lot of shooting are planned.

The team works 12 hours a day without interruption and anticipates the end of the shooting period in October of the same year.

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Applying make-up to the actor Boris Lukanov, who participated in the film / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

The director of the film – Jonathan Winfrey graduated from the University of Berkeley, worked as a journalist, was the director of the film studio “Concord”. In our country, few people know about these pictures, and even fewer are those who know the fate of the film. Some have heard of such a film, but with the title “The Red Target”.

The camera of the photographer Ivan Grigorov captured documentary footage from the shootings in front of the National Theater and the Ministry of Defense.

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On the left – the director of the film “Crisis in the Kremlin” – Jonathan Winfrey / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

This curious fact today, decades later, intrigues with the very subject of the film and gives rise to a reflection on Gorbachev’s biography. Why was the assassination, a central idea in the film’s script, completely real and not just fiction?

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The actor Robert Rustler, in the role of the killer who is from the CIA / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

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The era

The “Gorbachev” era: Pieces of history in photos

If you open Wikipedia to the name of Gorbachev, you will read: “Profession – nomenklaturchik”. What’s behind this “profession”: Gorbachev came from a peasant family, with grandparents deported by Stalin as “kulaks”. But he joined the ranks of the CPSU and was a member of it until 1991, always being in the vanguard of the party: he was secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, member of the Politburo of the CPSU, seventh general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Chairman of Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the last president of the USSR.

And it was this man devoted to the CPSU who pursued a policy that led to the peaceful withdrawal of the Communist Party from power and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

Gorbachev is not only the last president of the USSR, but also “the last deceased from the Bialowieza Agreement” of December 1991 – the act of dissolution of the USSR. It was signed by the leaders of the founding Soviet republics of the Soviet Union – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

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Did you know that Gorbachev has Ukrainian roots on his mother’s side? His mother tongue is Ukrainian. But if you follow his interviews, you will find that he calls Ukraine Malorossiya, and that he literally says that Crimea is Russian?!? Curious, isn’t it?

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Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

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Quotes, comments, insults and boasts: From Russia to Mikhail Gorbachev

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This same man, whom his compatriots look at extremely ambiguously, received the unanimous high assessment of all Western leaders: “He was a manly reformer and statesman,” Olaf Scholz said of Gorbachev. “Gorbachev was one of those people who change the world, undoubtedly – for the better,” noted Boris Johnson.

But everyone will agree that the majority of the population of the earth – not only the Russians, but also many other peoples – does not see that the world has changed for the better. Moreover, the Cold War seems to have never ended, the events of the last few months after the fatal February of this year speak eloquently.

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Marking a double during filming / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

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Did Gorbachev manage to put an end to the Cold War? – No, it didn’t work. Was he conscious of it at the end of his days? – Probably, yes. Tensions between Moscow and Washington these days have reached a peak and are fiercer than ever before. These are all reasons why Gorbachev’s personality is controversially evaluated – in one way in his homeland, and in another – outside it.

Especially sensitive for the Russians is the topic of the collapse of the USSR as a world superpower. Today, this is also the reason for the support for Putin, on whom many Russians place their hopes for the return of its old power.

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Photos of a scene from the film “Crisis in the Kremlin” / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

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Even the Baltic states, which today behave pro-Western and uphold Euro-Atlantic values, remember the Soviet tanks sent by Gorbachev to block their path to independence. For them, Gorbachev is neither a reformer nor a peacemaker. Putin has hardly forgotten that in 2011 it was Gorbachev who said it was time for him to “go”. But he stayed and apparently intends to “fix” what Gorbachev did – the thing for which the West values ​​him so highly.

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Action on the streets of Sofia / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

Putin has never allowed himself to publicly make personal accusations against Gorbachev for not seeking written assurances from the West that NATO would not expand eastward, but he has openly called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the century.

There is undoubtedly a “context” behind this – the shadow of the culprit – the “father of perestroika” Mikhail Gorbachev.

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The on-screen Mikhail Gorbachev / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

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For Russians, Gorbachev’s personality is associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, with the unfulfilled “perestroika” and with the total collapse of the Soviet Union internationally. The majority of Russians accuse Gorbachev of undermining their country’s authority as the #1 geopolitical power in the world. They also blame him for the emergence of a large and ungovernable post-democratic oligarchy in Russia.

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The cinematographer of the film is Krasimir Kostov / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

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Putin personally laid roses in front of Gorbachev's coffin (video)

Putin personally laid roses in front of Gorbachev’s coffin (video)

Against the background of these thoughts and sentiments, one could not have expected a funeral for Gorbachev in his homeland other than one resembling a state one. Putin bowed before Gorbachev’s coffin with a bouquet of red roses and left for Kaliningrad. There are also logical reasons for this: a state funeral for Gorbachev would force Putin to attend, as well as invite official guests from abroad – the very ones the Kremlin detests now more than ever.

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Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

So Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, was also the first Russian leader not to be sent off with state honors.

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A Safer World, Greater Freedom for Millions: World Leaders on Gorbachev's Legacy

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Do you remember that it was Gorbachev who withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan, and the war officially ended on February 15, 1989? But the costs of this war and the low oil prices after 1981 brought the Soviet economy, relying primarily on the export of this raw material, to an undeclared crisis. Fueling the fire is the armed conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On January 10, 1991, Gorbachev issued an ultimatum to the Lithuanian parliament to restore compliance with the USSR constitution and annul all unconstitutional laws. The next day he overthrew the Lithuanian government, killing people and injuring hundreds.

The West supports Lithuania. As it supports Ukraine today.

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Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

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Russian director Vitaly Mansky: Gorbachev gave me nothing but hope

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Gorbachev tried to get out of the awkward position of a peacemaker who caused casualties and proposed a new alliance treaty, the signing of which was scheduled for August 18, 1991. The hard core of the CPSU, however, does not want such a reorganization of the USSR and organized a coup to remove Gorbachev from power. Russian President Boris Yeltsin organized resistance against the coup (August 19 – 21, 1991) and gained popularity.

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Bulgarian soldiers are among the actors in the film / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

Signed with the presidents of Ukraine and Belarus – the three founding countries of the USSR, an agreement on the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This is the end of the USSR. In the presidential elections in 1996, Gorbachev enjoyed the trust of only one percent of the votes of his compatriots. An eloquent fact in itself about the changed attitude towards him.

He is losing the leadership game in his homeland.

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Acting out the assassination scene / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

His health deteriorated greatly in 2015. At an advanced age and with a pacemaker, he also experienced eye surgery due to cataracts. He often has to be hospitalized. In 2019, he had severe pneumonia.

Was the Nobel Peace Prize winner at peace with his soul? – According to some, since the death of his wife, Gorbachev has felt lonely and unhappy. And hardly only because of the loss of Raisa…

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Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

His name is associated with a foundation, a social democratic party that he is leaving, and a brand of vodka. Gorbachev’s death will certainly provoke a new reflection on politics and the people who dare to exercise it as reformers. Attempts against them are truly inevitable. And often they don’t just happen like in the cinema, like in that movie shot in Bulgaria.

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The commotion in a sublime episode from the set / Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

An old interview with its director sounds particularly intriguing today. In it we find a phrase by Jonathan Winfrey: “Russians and Americans have a lot in common”?…

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Photo: Ivan Grigorov/Dir.bg

Text: Emi MARIANSKA
Photos: Ivan GRIGOROV

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