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Russia: Gorbachev Marks 70th Birthday

Moscow, 2 March 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is celebrating his 70th birthday today. Russian media have given a lot of coverage to the event, with the former president appearing in lengthy television interviews. On 26 February, Gorbachev was feted at a star-studded gala at a hotel just off Red Square.

President Vladimir Putin congratulated Gorbachev and thanked him for introducing an era of reform. Putin said in a statement issued by the Kremlin that "a whole epoch is rightfully linked to Gorbachev's name."

An elite banquet in his honor will be held today at a downtown hotel. Gorbachev also has invited his closest associates and friends for a small gathering at his Moscow apartment this weekend.