Gorbachev: Both of you were very familiar with the Soviet Union. Don't you remember what kind of a country it was? All it took was a tiny political joke to end up in Magadan. And I was supposed to have a plan and a supporting team? First we had to lead the people out of torpor. The party establishment didn't need perestroika. Each of them had it made. The district party leader was the king in his district, the regional leader was a czar and the general secretary was practically God's equal. That's why we needed glasnost -- openness -- first. It was the path to freedom. We later conducted the first free elections in Russia in 1,000 years.