Spiegel Online interviews Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia's relationship with the European Union, natural resource management, human rights, and corruption.
SPIEGEL: Mr. President, you are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with other world leaders in Berlin. Where were you on Nov. 9, 1989?
Dmitry Medvedev: I don't remember, but I still recall very precisely how suddenly our lives changed. I was a teaching assistant at the University of St. Petersburg at the time, and I realized that this development would affect not only the Germans, but all of Europe and, ultimately, also the destiny of our country. The Scorpions' hit "Wind of Change" became an anthem of the times. The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the division of the continent, and the fall of the Wall united us again. Some of our hopes from back then have been fulfilled, others have not.
SPIEGEL: The fall of the Wall made former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a respected figure in Germany and throughout the West. How would you judge his historical accomplishments?
Medvedev: As the head of state, it is not my place to pass judgment on my predecessors. Germany and other European countries give Gorbachev credit for the fall of the Iron Curtain. There are differences in opinion about his accomplishments for our country. The collapse of the Soviet Union occurred during his term in office. A great many Russians have the feeling that they lost their country back then, and they hold him responsible for this. Whether or not this is justifiable is something for historians to decide.