Mikhail Gorbachev, last Soviet leader, dies aged 91



Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its collapse in 1991, died in Moscow, Russian news agencies say.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has died at the age of 91, Russian news agencies reported citing medical sources.

“Gorbachev died tonight after a serious and prolonged illness,” the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said late Tuesday, as quoted by the news agencies Interfax, TASS and RIA Novosti.

Gorbachev led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its collapse in 1991.

The dissolution of the Soviet bloc – marked by Gorbachev’s resignation that year – ended the Cold War and led to the independence of several Eastern European countries and the creation of the modern Russian state.

Gorbachev’s death will come if Russia perseveres with its invasion of Ukraine which has increased tensions between Moscow and the West.

He will be buried in Moscow Novodevichy Cemetery next to his wife Raisa, who died in 1999, TASS reported, citing a source familiar with the family’s wishes.

Mikhail Gorbachev waves from the stands in Red Square during a Revolution Day celebration, in Moscow, November 7, 1989 [File: Boris Yurchenko/AP Photo]

After Gorbachev became general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985, he insisted on reviving the system by introducing some political and economic freedoms.

He also renounced the use of force to quell pro-democracy protests in the Soviet bloc countries of communist Eastern Europe in 1989.

But the Soviet Union began to fall apart over the next two years, and Gorbachev struggled to avoid that collapse.

“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 news agency in 1992 shortly after he left office.

“I often get the question: Would I have started it all over if I had to repeat it? Yes indeed. And with more perseverance and determination,” he said.

Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War, but many in Russia see him as responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the social and economic crises the country experienced at the beginning of the war. the nineties.

“Gorbachev had befriended the West, was seen in the West as a reformer, but he tried to keep the Soviet Union together and he failed,” Conor O’Clery, a Moscow correspondent for The Irish Times newspaper from 1991 to 1996, Al Jazeera told Tuesday.

“He is being reviled in Russia today for being associated with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of Russia’s leading role in the world.”

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