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Full transcript of Gorbachev interview

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Mikhail Gorbachev

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- CNN's Ryan Chilcote spoke to former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev about his thoughts and reflections on the death of the Pope John Paul II. The following is a transcript of the interview:

Chilcote: I'm Ryan Chilcote for CNN in Moscow and with us we have the man best know as the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. Thank you very much for being with us Mr. Gorbachev. I'm interested in your meeting with the pope, your first meeting with the pope in 1989. At that time, you were the leader of communists throughout the world really, and you're meeting with the one of the most vocal opponents of communism.

Gorbachev: We had a really interesting, albeit perhaps too emotional conversation. He told me he supported perestroika, but he was very, very critical of communism. Likewise, though, he was very critical of capitalism. He said "I don't serve any political parties, I serve God. So I'm after the same things that you are trying to achieve with your perestroika. I told him that we had a lot of criticism for him too.

I will never forget his words about Europe. "Europe", he said, "must breathe with both its lungs." He was already aware the situation in Eastern Europe was very similar to what was going on in the Soviet Union.

Chilcote: You've said before that he actually prayed for you at that meeting.

Gorbachev: We are praying for you, he said, and for your work. He said it more than once. But that wasn't odd to hear because the Russian church was already praying too.

Chilcote: Your meeting -- did it somehow influence somehow the decisions that you made after, the political decisions that you made that really brought an end to the Soviet Union, that brought an end to the Berlin Wall?

Gorbachev: He brought up the Wall indirectly. He wanted my opinion on the prospect of a united Europe, the Berlin wall was of course part of that, but really he was talking about ending the Cold War. The day after our meeting, I'm in Malta meeting with President Bush, and announcing that we're no longer enemies. So see it's all interconnected.

Chilcote: Mr. Gorbachev, your thoughts that the pope is no longer with us.

Gorbachev: I mourn his loss. We knew it was coming to this. What can I say -- it must have been the will of God. He acted really courageously. His devotion to his followers is a remarkable example to all of us.

Chilcote: Thank you very much Mr. Gorbachev. We've been speaking with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union about the influence of Pope John Paul II on his actions as the leader of the Soviet Union.

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