NEW YORK — PRIVATE citizen Mikhail Gorbachev looks relaxed enough. Yet, over the last week and a half, the former Soviet leader has been racing from one United States city to the next with all the energy of a capitalist in search of a deal.
Drawing enthusiastic applause and shouts of "Gorby" almost everywhere he goes, he is making speeches, renewing old ties, and reaching out to new friends on a 13-day tour of nine American cities. He was expected to round out a three-day visit to the Big Apple May 13 by touring the New York Stock Exchange, giving a noon speech to members of the Economic Club of New York, and receiving an award from Yeshiva University.
He and his wife, Raisa, are to fly the next day to Washington, where Mr. Gorbachev is expected to address Congress. The Gorbachevs will dine with President and Mrs. Bush at the White House.
In the course of his visit to the US, Gorbachev has already picked up several mementos: a Stetson hat and a gold "freedom award" from former President Reagan, and a red jacket with "Perestroika Futures" printed on the back from officials of Chicago's Mercantile Exchange.
Yet the former Soviet leader, who is traveling in a Forbes jet labeled "Capitalist Tool," is in search of more solid gains. He hopes to raise $3 million and a committed group of partners, such as universities and foundations, for the Moscow-based private think tank he now heads.
The aim of his Gorbachev Foundation is to strengthen democracy and global cooperation.
His first stop in New York on May 11 was at the United Nations, an organization he is credited with strengthening at the close of the cold war. Still sunburned after an outdoor speech last week for which, he said, his hosts had promised a canopy to shield him from the sun, Gorbachev met with United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and other UN notables, urging them to restructure the organization for a stronger role in keeping world peace.
Meeting later with reporters, he said Security Council membership should be enlarged to reflect major changes since World War II. "Certain countries should be included, with the right to veto," he said. Earlier the same day, in a commencement speech at Atlanta's Emory University, where he was introduced by former President Jimmy Carter, Gorbachev said the world is "sinking into a chaos of conflicts of a different order" than the cold war. "When peoples and countries are so interdependent, making sovereig nty an absolute value leads to tragedy," he said.
In a speech last week at Missouri's Westminster College, Gorbachev said a major international effort is needed to keep the current shift toward democracy moving in a way that embraces all of humanity. He urged rigid controls on nuclear and chemical weapons and said exports of conventional weapons should be halted by the year 2000. UN sanctions and other means of "compulsion," he said, should be considered against nations which violate human rights.