MOSCOW -- Besides being first (and last) president of the Soviet Union, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the ender of the Cold War, Mikhail S. Gorbachev has racked up another distinction: He now receives the smallest pension in all of Russia.
When Mr. Gorbachev resigned as president Dec. 25, 1991, while the Soviet Union was in terminal collapse, he was assigned a pension of 4,000 rubles a month, at the time worth $25.13.
Today, after more than two years of inflation, monetary collapse, and wrenching and profound economic transformations, Mr. Gorbachev still receives 4,000 rubles a month. But now that is worth $2.28.
Mr. Gorbachev appealed for a review of his pension several months ago, but that appeal would have landed on (or near) the desk of President Boris N. Yeltsin. And it would be hard to imagine two men in Russia who have a greater distaste for each other than Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Yeltsin.
Mr. Yeltsin already had taken away Mr. Gorbachev's office and limousine. A raise in the pension wouldn't seem to have been in the offing.
Vladimir Polyakov, a Gorbachev spokesman, said yesterday that the ex-president's appeal for a bigger pension has never been answered.
Ordinarily, Mr. Gorbachev's service record would entitle him to receive a pension equal to 11 times the minimum wage, or a total of 160,820 rubles ($91.74) a month.
By law, the smallest pension allowable as of today is 19,650 rubles ($11.21).
But the Russian government can make a pretty good argument that Mr. Gorbachev is a special case.
In November, for instance, he collected about $70,000 in speaking fees while on a trip to the United States.