Good afternoon, and welcome to the Casper Star-Tribune's live coverage of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's speech at the University of Wyoming!
I'm writing to you from the stands of UW's Arena-Auditorium.
The stands are quickly filling up -- at least the half of them that are open -- all the way up to the rafters
Gorbachev is scheduled to come on in 10 minutes, along with former US Sen Al Simpson and Gov. Matt Mead
UW spokesman Milton Ontiveroz: estimated crowd is 6,500 people
We're about to start -- if you have any questions or comments, feel free to chime in!
Several state officials are here, including former state Auditor Rita Meyer and numerous state legislators
Just asked a few people in the crowd why they came out today.
This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of things,” said UW student Mike Schedel, a junior geology major from Denver. “It’s not every day that the former president of the Soviet Union comes to your university.”
Gorbachev is the second Russian leader to visit Laramie
In 1949, Alexander Kerensky was a guest lecturer at UW.
Kerensky was the head of Russia provisional government in 1917, after the Tsar was overthrown
That is, until the October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks removed him from power
UW history professor Phil Roberts said when Kerensky taught his course, there were armed guards stationed outside
Because Kerensky was afraid Stalin would send an assassin to kill him, just as Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico in 1940
Anything in particular you're
hoping to hear/learn from Gorby today?
Gorby's people have set strict rules about his visit
No audience photos allowed
No media photos after the first 5 minutes of his speech
Even the 8 UW students picked to have dinner with him say they won't be allowed to take pictures with him
Correction: media video is allowed, but only as a pool. Meaning there will be one camera, and all tv stations have to share that one tape
UW President Tom Buchanan is introducing Gov Matt Mead
Mead: Gorbachev is among the most transformational leaders of the 20th century
UW spokesman Chad Baldwin: Gorbachev is being paid $125,000 to speak here, plus food and hotel costs
all of those costs are being covered by donors
Mead's going through Gorby's accomplishments -- including serving as head of Soviet agriculture. It's a topic "something near and dear" to Wyoming, Mead said
Shortly after becoming Soviet President, Gorby met with an unofficial group of Americans who wanted to talk about refugees. Former US Sen Al Simpson, R-Wyo., was a member of that group
Mead: translator "struggled to keep up with the Simpsonized version of the English language"
Mead: Simpson kept saying "pal"; translator translated it as "comrade"
Gorby comes out to standing O
He's talking in Russian -- it's being translated
Gorby: A-A looks like it was built for an opera
Gorby: I come from a region of Russia similar to Wyoming. It feels like coming home
Gorby: our two countries, during the last century, were mostly cooperative
especially during World War II
But for decades afterward, "we were testing each other's strength"
Winston Churchill "was a great man", but he thought USSR was gonna sweep through all of Europe. USSR "had no such plans"
Gorby's turned speech to discussing
world economic turmoil
We need to give all our effort to make sure we have peace on earth and live here for many centuries to come
Gorby: is it possible to build a new secure world order?
Recalls words of Pope John Paul II. "I was his friend"
Pope John Paul: we need a new world order that will be more stable and humane