Cause of Mikhail Gorbachevs head mark and how it inspired Chernobyl nickname

Mikhail Gorbachev passed away on Tuesday (August 30) at the age of 91 and the former President of the Soviet Union left an undoubtable impact on both Russia and around the world.

Leading the USSR in its final years from 1985 to 1991, Gorbachev oversaw massive change as he moved towards social democracy but his political standing wasn't without controversy, notably the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

As the most important man in the USSR, all eyes were on him on how he would manage a devastating incident like Chernobyl.

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The nuclear accident occurred on April 26 but it was only on May 14 that Gorbachev decided to tell the Russian public the full extent of the disaster, a decision that proved to be unpopular with the country's citizens.

His reaction to the disaster inspired his infamous nickname – 'The Stained Leader' – a reference to the birthmark on Gorbachev's forehead.

As most birthmarks appear at birth, Gorbachev's one is classed as a port wine stain – due to the red colour – which is caused by a malformation of blood vessels and appears either as a flat or slightly bumpy reddish-purplish discoloration of the skin.

Gorbachev took aim at the Soviet Union Atomic industry for Chernobyl as he argued the industry was “dominated by servility, bootlicking, cliquishness, and persecution of those who think differently, by putting on a good show, by personal connections and clans.

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"We are about to put an end to it all", he said.

The former leader was praised for allowing an enhanced level of freedom of speech and the press but he was criticised by the Russian public for using the destruction that Chernobyl caused as an excuse to create another revolution.

He said: "A Russian needs a mission impossible, so that he would send everything to [hell], and do what is needed. A new Chernobyl should happen every day to make him wake up and move forward.”


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