1 Apr 2011

80th birthday of Gorbachev marked in London

4:30 pm on 1 April 2011

World leaders and celebrities have turned out for a gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London to celebrate the 80th birthday of former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.

The event, which featured performances by Bryan Ferry and Shirley Bassey as well as the work of leading Russian composer Valery Gergiev, raised funds for the Gorbachev Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The 1990 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the last leader of the Soviet Union, from 1985 to 1991, is widely perceived in the West as the man who freed Eastern Europe from Soviet rule and ended the Cold War.

But attitudes in Russia are more ambivalent following the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting economic hardships.

President Dmitry Medvedev has presented Russia's top medal to Mr Gorbachev on his birthday, calling it "a fitting evaluation of the big work you did as head of state".

He added, however, that that work "can be assessed in different ways".