Mikhail Gorbachev, who played a pivotal role in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end during his tenure as the leader of the Soviet Union, has died.
Gorbachev resigned from his position on Christmas Day in 1991 and the Soviet Union was dissolved a year later. “I see myself as a man who started the reforms that were necessary for the country and for Europe and the world,” Gorbachev told The Associated Press in 1992 shortly after he left office. “I am often asked; would I have started it all again if I had to repeat it? Yes, indeed. And with more persistence and determination.”
Gorbachev was 91 and reportedly died after a long illness. “Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev died this evening after a serious and long illness,” Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital reported, according to the Interfax news agency. He will be buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow next to his wife, Raisa Gorbachev, the agency said.
Gorbachev introduced measures such as “perestroika” and “glasnost,” which sought to overhaul Soviet Union’s struggling economy and make its government more open.
A close friend of Gorbachev’s, Alexey Venediktov, who is a journalist, told Forbes Russia this year that Gorbachev was “disappointed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. “It was his life’s work,” Venediktov said, recalling perestroika and glasnost. “Freedom is Gorbachev’s business.”
Russian state news agency Tass reported on Tuesday that Putin did express “deep condolences” over Gorbachev’s passing.
Gorbachev and his wife were also known for their extravagant fashion choices, which was at odds with their predecessors. The Daily Mail referred to them as “the Gucci couple.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to Gorbachev and said he changed the course of history. “The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist, and tireless advocate for peace,” he said. “I’m deeply saddened by his passing.”
President Joe Biden said that Gorbachev was one of a kind because he had the “imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it.”
“After decades of brutal political repression, he embraced democratic reforms. He believed in glasnost and perestroika — openness and restructuring — not as mere slogans, but as the path forward for the people of the Soviet Union after so many years of isolation and deprivation,” Biden said in a statement made on Tuesday night.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ABC NEWS
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