Movie stars, singers and politicians turned out on Wednesday at a gala concert in London to honour former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev as he celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this month.
The glitzy red carpet affair, co-hosted by US actress Sharon Stone, underlined the celebrity status Gorbachev enjoys in the West, where is widely perceived as the man who freed Eastern Europe from Soviet rule and ended the Cold War.
Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, also a host, traced a direct line from Gorbachev to recent political upheaval in the Middle East and northern Africa.
“I think you could look around the world now and you see that there are still people fighting for freedom and there is kind of a direct line to Mikhail Gorbachev,” Spacey told Reuters.
“And yet I don’t think he’s gotten the kind of due, or kind of respect or kind of adulation that I think he deserves. So (I’m) very happy that tonight people are going to take the time to pay tribute to him, celebrate his birthday.”
The musical gala in London featured performances from Bryan Ferry and Shirley Bassey as well as leading Russian composer Valery Gergiev, and raised funds for the Gorbachev Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support.