Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has passed away. He breathed his last at the age of 91. He was running ill for a long time. The Russian news agency quoted a statement from the Central Clinical Hospital as saying that he died after a prolonged illness. Apart from this, no other information was given.
A Kremlin spokesman told Interfax news agency that Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed deep condolences over the death of Mikhail Gorbachev. Britain’s current prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he was saddened to hear that Mikhail Gorbachev had died “at a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine”.
Mikhail Gorbachev led the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991 until its collapse, and under his leadership communism came to an end in Central-Eastern Europe. Gorbachev is best known for opening up the Soviet Union (USSR) to outsiders and ending the Cold War by tying up his ties with the US-led West. However, in this sequence, he could not stop the Soviet Union from breaking up in 1991.
Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 at the age of 53. He remained in this position until 1991 when the party itself dissolved and the Soviet Union soon collapsed.
He will be remembered for his efforts to modernize and reform the Soviet Union. He brought the policy of perestroika and glasnost – that is, the policy of reorganization and openness. Perestroika was designed to revitalize the USSR’s dormant economy and bring about change, while the concept of glasnost was a policy of incorporating liberalism and pluralism after decades of censorship.
Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for signing a historic nuclear weapons deal with US President Ronald Reagan and maintaining Cold War peace by repelling Soviet forces when the Berlin Wall fell a year earlier.
However, many Russians blamed him and his reformist policies for the country’s downfall. He remained on the fringes of politics in the new Russia that emerged after 1991. He made another attempt to return to political life in 1996, but received only 0.5% of the vote in the presidential elections.
His health has declined in recent years and he has been going to the hospital. He will be buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow next to his wife Raisa, who died in 1999.