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No Tears, Little Regret as Gorbachev Resigns

December 25, 1991

MOSCOW (AP) _ As Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s image flickered on a small color television perched inside a noisy train station Wednesday, hundreds listened to his farewell speech with no tears, and little regret.

One woman shook her head when Gorbachev said he was resigning. A few smiled and clapped loudly when he finished. Several people slept through it all. A gypsy woman cut a sausage and fed her family.

″Gorbachev is too soft,″ said Valera Rushkevich, who was waiting at the Kiev station to go home to Ukraine. ″He made a swamp out of a strong country. He’s been gone for a long time. This just seals the end.″

Although the West hailed the Soviet leader for the changes he brought to his country, his popularity at home has never been high.

It was no different the day he left.

″He should have gone three years ago. His perestroika brought us nothing. He is to blame for our poverty,″ said Ivan Petrov, a war veteran.

One woman worried that Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s new Commonwealth of Independent States was no better than the now-dissolved Soviet Union.

″I don’t trust this commonwealth. Everything is so uncertain. It was better with Gorbachev,″ said Lyubov Nikolayeva, who builds housing for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

″Gorbachev gave us democracy. But for the rest, he’s hopeless. In six years, he let everything go to pieces. It’s time for him to go,″ said 59- year-old Nikolai Gubenko, a forester, before the resignation.

In the dwindling winter light before Gorbachev’s speech, the talk in Moscow’s muddy streets, crowded stores and packed buses was mainly of prices, not politics. It is a time that to many seems as confusing and uncertain as the aftermath of the 1917 Revolution.

There was a feeling of despair and anger among older people and workers, but some hope among the young, for whom Gorbachev has been the dominant political figure in their lives.

″How do you expect me to say anything good about Gorbachev? He brought everything down and now we have to try to put this country back together again,″ said Anatoly Ivanov, 58, a metal fitter from the southern Russian city of Krasnodar.

″Of course, it’s not all Gorbachev’s fault,″ Ivanov said. He pointed to a large statue of Vladimir I. Lenin that towers over October Square, and said: ″It all started with him.″

Anastasia Baranova, 73, said she would not watch Gorbachev’s speech.

″Good grief 3/8 What could he possibly say? I have lived through war and famine and I’ll survive him, too. And I don’t need to listen to somebody who made our lives worse,″ she said as she waited for the bus.

At prestigious Moscow State University, students expressed some optimism.

″Gorbachev gave us freedom. But he was weak in economics. Now everybody has to think about food but at least we can think freely,″ said physics student Andrei Bytov.

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