Mikhail Gorbachev visited Norilsk in 1988
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Mikhail Gorbachev visited Norilsk in 1988

September 26, 2022

On September 14, 1988, the CPSU Central Committee’s general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, the future president of the USSR, arrived in Norilsk. Norilsk for the first time welcomed the country’s first person.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The honored guest and his wife were met by the Norilsk combine’s newly elected director, Anatoly Filatov. Gorbachev willingly communicated with the people, constantly breaking the program of his stay to the detriment of the official part.

The Norilsk visit also began with improvisation: the cortege made its first stop for an hour in Kayerkan. The next meeting with the Norilsk people took place on the steps of the Karat store. According to the eyewitnesses’ recollections, several hundred Norilsk residents spontaneously gathered there, wishing to tell Gorbachev personally about their problems.

In supermarket No. 3 on Talnahskaya street 30, Gorbachev checked the grocery assortment and again talked to people. The general secretary also visited Nadezhda metallurgical plant, where he met with metallurgists.

Later, Gorbachev would call that trip a ‘headache’ and write in his working diary that in the city, which gave billions of dollars in profits to the state, “the situation with public utilities and transport is awful”.

The country’s first person’s ability to answer questions for several hours made a strong impression on the townspeople. When the people of Norilsk complained that perestroika in Norilsk was proceeding slowly, the general secretary replied cheerfully:

“Don’t be afraid of the bosses who are afraid of perestroika! Let’s fight them together! You – from below, and we – from above!”

Norilsk residents understood literally: a few months later, the first mass strike broke out in Norilsk.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told that street lighting appeared in Norilsk in 1953.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

September 26, 2022

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