Gorbachev turns 70 today

Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and the last president of the USSR, is marking today his 70th birthday. The ceremony is to be held today at the Grand-Marriott hotel in Moscow. Invitations are reported to have been sent out mainly to the "close friends belonging to a wide circle of people," officials at the Gorbachev Foundation say. Previously, Mr. Gorbachev was always and everywhere accompanied by his wife Raisa. Sadly, she died in September 1999. From 12:00 to 16:00 Mikhail Sergeyevich will be receiving best wishes at the Gorbachev Fund. Among those well-wishers is Germany’s former vice-chancellor Hans-Dietrich Genscher. Greetings to the "father of perestroika" from abroad from statesmen, public figures, writers, scientists, common citizens and whole collectives began to come in several days before the birthday anniversary, according to RIA Novosti. Mr. Gorbachev remains politically active - he is now the leader of the Russian United Social Democratic Party. According to Interfax, President Vladimir Putin has wished Mikhail Gorbachev many happy returns. In his message of greeting Mr. Putin says: "A whole epoch is rightly connected with the name of Mr. Gorbachev, an epoch which started deep transformations in this country that fundamentally changed the map of the world."

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