Michael Waller explains for the Federalist why the late Mikhail Gorbachev deserves some criticism along with praise for his handling of the Soviet Union’s demise.

The notorious KGB chairman Yuri Andropov recruited Mikhail Gorbachev, cultivated him, and placed him in the Kremlin leadership to ultimately take power. Once he led the Soviet Communist Party, Andropov’s recruit protected and rewarded the Soviet secret police by making it off-limits to any truth-telling, accountability, or reform.

Gorbachev has died, but the KGB that he nurtured and protected lives on under an ungrateful Vladimir Putin.

Until the day he passed away at age 91, Gorbachev got an international pass for saving the core of Soviet power: the ever-watching secret police and its global spy and active measures networks.

Gorbachev didn’t stand up for the KGB’s victims. While he opened Soviet society, he protected the tormentors. He shielded the KGB from the “openness” of glasnost, keeping it unaccountable for decades of industrial-scale crimes. He insulated it from the reorganization of perestroika. Gorbachev even preserved the KGB’s cult-like devotion to the Bolshevik Cheka. To this day, Russian intelligence and security officers still call themselves chekisti or chekists.

He kept the KGB’s entire archives secret to save the chekists’ reputation and prestige.

The internal repression and informant files? Gorbachev kept them secret and the networks operational. The international subversion files? All secret. The Soviet terror network files? Secret. Indeed, as the USSR was collapsing, Gorbachev promoted one of the architects of the Soviet terror network, Yevgeny Primakov, to run KGB foreign intelligence.

He knew the big names in Western business, politics, journalism, and culture who worked for the KGB or the Soviet Communist Party. He could have known all the names had he chosen too. He could have exposed them all. But he protected them. And they heap praise on him today.