Defying superstition, Nobel-Prize-winner and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev celebrated his 70th birthday a week before the actual date (March 2), on Feb. 26. "I’m not superstitious," Gorbachev said, "this is a strategic move — I’m going to receive all the official greetings today and keep my real birthday for relatives and close friends."
Celebrations began with a concert in the Rossiya Concert Hall. A constellation of stars, poet Andrei Dementyev, singers Laima Vaikule and Tamara Gvardtsiteli, comedian-imitator Maxim Galkin, singer Andrei Makarevich and many others came to wish him "happy birthday."
After the concert, more than 500 guests moved to the Tsarev Sad business and conference center where Gorbachev, looking healthy and elegant, received numerous greetings and presents, not least from Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the well-known lawyer, Henry Reznik.
The former president demonstrated an enviable degree of tolerance, giving everyone a share of his attention while being literally heaped with flowers. Artist Nikas Safronov didn’t show up, but sent a portrait of Gorbachev painted in the style of photo-realism. Movie-director Sergei Solovyov, who was there, said: "For me, Gorbachev’s Perestroika made things that had long been forbidden allowed. I remember how I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming when I saw Boris Pasternak’s ‘Doctor Zhivago’ in the bookstores."