Mikhail Gorbachev’s humble hometown reminisces over the late Soviet leader

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The small town of Privolnoye in southern Russia, some 1,200 kilometres from Moscow, is not very well known. Only around 3,000 souls live in this rural, farming community. 

However, one person who used to call the place home is one of the country’s most renowned figures: Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who passed away last week at the age of 91.

Though he did not live in his hometown when he died, preferring the hustle and bustle of Moscow, many Privolnoye locals still think of Gorbachev fondly.

Maria Ignatova, a classmate of Gorbachev’s, remembers that “he was a perky, smart, well-read and active guy” who played an active role in the local school they both attended. 

Gorbachev was also the secretary of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League organisation, the Komsomol.

Gorbachev eventually left Privolnoye to study in Moscow. He later returned, rising through the ranks to become the region’s Communist Party committee chairman, but over the years he didn’t lose touch with his hometown. 

According to the head of Privolnoye’s territorial administration, Sergei Bukhtoyarov, Gorbachev would help out when asked. For example, he helped repair the local church, after it had problems with the domes.

Gorbachev reached the highest office in Russia to become the leadaer of the USSR in 1985 despite coming from very humble beginnings. 

His parents — of Ukrainian and Russian heritage — were farm labourers who worked in Privolnoye’s wheat fields. They are both buried in the town.

The modest home where Gorbachev spent his childhood no longer exists, but his parents’ last house still stands in the tiny town. 

People have petitioned the authorities for it to be made into a museum to honour the late Soviet leader, yet they have so far been unsuccessful. 

Watch the video above for more information.