Mikhail Gorbachev, 91-year-old Soviet leader dies.
Mikhail Gorbachev In his 91st year, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader responsible for ending the Cold War, passed away.
After Mr Gorbachev took power in 1985, he implemented reforms and opened the Soviet Union to the world.
Many Russians blamed him for the years of turmoil that ensued after he failed to prevent the slow collapse of the union.
Outside Russia, he was widely respected, with the UN chief saying he had “changed the course of history”.
“The world has lost an extraordinary global leader, a devoted multilateralism, and a tireless peace advocate in Mikhail Gorbachev,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
According to the hospital in Moscow where he died, he had been sick for a long time.
He had been in and out of hospital in recent years due to a decline in his health. International media reported in June that he had been admitted with kidney problems, although his cause of death has not been disclosed.
The Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow is the final resting place of many prominent Russians. State funerals are not certain.
In a message to Mr Gorbachev’s family, President Vladimir Putin described his “huge impact on history”.
A Russian leader said, “He understood the need for reform, and he offered his own solutions to pressing issues.”
They had a strained relationship – they last met in 2006, according to reports.
While Mr. Gorbachev had supported the annexation of Crimea in 2014, he was apparently unhappy with Mr. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH WESTERN STATES.
During Gorbachev’s presidency, the Soviet Union came closer to the West than at any time since World War II.
Former Russian liberal opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky said: “He gave freedom to hundreds of millions of people in Russia and around it, and to half of Europe as well.” In his words, “Few leaders in history influenced their time so decisively.”
The invasion of Ukraine brought Western sanctions crashing down on Moscow late in Gorbachev’s life, and politicians both in Russia and the West began talking about a new Cold War.
Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Gorbachev died in a symbolic way when his life’s work, freedom, was effectively destroyed by Putin.
REFORMS THAT TURN THE WORLD ON ITS HEAD.
We entered a missile-free world under Mikhail Gorbachev, leadership, but one mistake was made: we knew nothing about our country,” said Vladimir Shevchenko, then Gorbachev’s protocol chief.
According to the RIA news agency, “our union fell apart, and that was his tragedy.”
He introduced limited political and economic freedoms after becoming general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985, but his reforms went awry.
It is my sincere belief that he was a good man and a decent man. William Taubman, emeritus professor at Amherst College and Gorbachev biographer, believes Gorbachev was too decent for the country he led.
In the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and elsewhere, Gorbachev’s “glasnost” policy encouraged nationalists to press for independence.
Despite Gorbachev’s reforms unleashing turbulence, many Russians never forgave him, considering the subsequent plunge in their living standards too high a price for democracy.
Gorbachev was a traitor, said Russian-appointed official Vladimir Rogov in an area of Ukraine now under pro-Moscow control.
After visiting Gorbachev in hospital in June, liberal economist Ruslan Grinberg told Zvezda: “He gave us all freedom, but we don’t know what to do with it.”
Legacy of mixed heritage.
Gorbachev said in an interview with CNN in 2019 that despite worsening tensions, US-Russian relations must be avoided from becoming a “New Cold War.” “The result could be a hot war that destroys our civilization as a whole,” he said.
In response to a question regarding the 1987 arms control agreement Gorbachev signed with Reagan, he expressed a hope that such agreements could be revived.
As far as he was concerned, all the agreements that were there were preserved, not destroyed. “But the ultimate goal of arms control must be to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether.” This is the first step towards destroying what mustn’t be destroyed.