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Mikhail Gorbachev is contesting Indonesian elections

JAKARTA: Mikhail Gorbachev is running in the general election in Indonesia going to be held next week.

Hold on if you are thinking that the octogenarian ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev who helped bring an end to the Cold War, is running in the Indonesian elections, you are wrong.

The Gorbachev running in Indonesian election is a 32-year old whose full name is Mikhail Gorbachev Dom.

He is vying for a seat in parliament, one of more than 245,000 candidates contesting the Southeast Asian nation’s biggest-ever polls on April 17.

The former environmental researcher was born in 1986, just as his Nobel Prize-winning namesake was embarking on reforms that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

How the Indonesian Gorbachev got his name was slightly less earth-shattering.

“My parents were certain that they were going to have a girl so when I was born they panicked because they didn’t have a boy’s name ready,” the Jakarta resident said.

So he went nameless for a week until the couple spotted the elder Gorbachev’s name in a newspaper.

“My father thought it was a cool name and he was an influential leader of the Soviet Union so they thought let’s give our son that name,” he said.

The unusual moniker wasn’t easy for an adolescent Gorbachev, who still prefers his nickname Gorba.

But it helped him decide to enter politics after years of largely ineffective environmental activism left him frustrated.

“I realised that I needed to go into politics to see my (environmental) policies implemented,” he said.

“These days, I think the name works to my advantage … People will never forget the name, even when they can’t remember my face.”