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He was the first and the last president of the Soviet Union. Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mikhail Gorbachev celebrated his 80th anniversary on Tuesday. He is known by many as a politician who has changed not only the history of his own country, but a large part of the world as well.
Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, celebrated his 80th birthday on Tuesday.
He is widely credited for the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the bloc of socialist countries in Eastern Europe.
During his presidency the west coined the term "perestroika", which stands for "reconstruction."
For the Soviet people, perestroika meant a taste of the their first civil liberties in decades.
Gorbachev helped to end the Cold War and triggered the collapse of the Soviet Union -- ironically, he became the nation's last president.
In a taped interview aired on Wednesday, Gorbachev looked back on his eight decades and expressed amazement.
[Mikhail Gorbachev, Former President of the USSR]:
"I can't believe I've lived this long - eighty years - I used to think that was such an old age. Raisa and I had a plan, a human plan - to live to the year 2000, and that would be it. Because we'd already had so much - we'd lived so much life. It's not just one, two or three, but five or seven wonderful lives. For just one person it's too much."
Despite his years, the former president is still active socially.
He is the head of the International foundation for social, economic and political studies -- the "Gorbachev-Foundation" - and he also serves as a co-founder of the newspaper "Novaya Gazeta."
Gorbachev gave Soviet citizens their first civil liberties in decades, such as the right to one's independent opinion and the right to set up private enterprises.
But he thinks that modern-day Russia still has a long way to go in building a democracy.