­Gorbachev’s 80th birthday bash to bolster charity funds

A charity event marking the 80th birthday of the first and last President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, will take place on Wednesday at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The aim is to raise £5 million (some US $8 million) for children’s charities.

The idea to hold the gala came from Gorbachev’s granddaughters, Ksenia Gorbacheva and Anastasia Virganskaya. It is being widely supported by celebrities and world politicians from both East and West. Set to make speeches at the event are Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, the Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, Israeli President Shimon Peres, legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve and Gorbachev’s daughter Irina who is Vice President of the Gorbachev Foundation. More big names expected to add their support.

The first celebrities to back the campaign were stars such as Bono, Jose Carreras, Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Hurley, Alan Rickman and many others.

Congratulatory messages from Dmitry Medvedev and Bill Clinton, and world famous artists, such as Sting and Bono will be heard at the ceremony while snippets of the most important moments of Mikhail Gorbachev’s life and political and social activity will be displayed on screens.

Most of the musical performances, by stars such as pianist Andrey Gavrilov, vocalists Dmitry Khvorostovsky and Catherine Jenkins, will be accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra, directed by maestro Valery Gergiev.  The concert will also hear popular modern compositions performed by “The Scorpions”; Russian rock musician Andrey Makarevich; Shirley Bassey; Russian singer, songwriter and producer Igor Krutoy; singer Lara Fabian; Mel C of the Spice Girls; Bryan Ferry and Paul Anka.

The Nobel Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev, who celebarated his 80th birthday on March 2, will be personally honouring people who have “Changed the World”, in an award ceremony over the course of the event. The new annual award established by the Gorbachev Foundation and the forum of the Nobel Prize winners, is known as the “Gorbachev Award”. Its three categories are “Perestroika”, “Glasnost” and “Uskoreniye” (acceleration). Mikhail Gorbachev’s awards will be given to those people whose colossal contribution to the development of the world community, culture, social science and technology goes far beyond the concept of existing awards.

There are three nominees in each category. Among them, American film director Steven Spielberg, U2 frontman Bono, the father of the World Wide Web Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, and Russian-born American computer scientist and software developer Sergey Brin who is best known as the co-founder of Google.

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