The 91-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev, the former head of the Soviet Union who peacefully ended the Cold War, has passed away.
When Mr. Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and he opened up the Soviet Union to the outside world and implemented a number of domestic reforms.
But he was powerless to stop the Soviet Union’s slow demise, which gave rise to contemporary Russia.
People from all across the world have expressed tribute, with UN chief António Guterres claiming that he “changed the course of history”
“Mikhail Gorbachev was a one-of-a kind statesman,” UN Secretary General Mr Guterres wrote in a Twitter tribute. “The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist, and tireless advocate for peace.”
According to the Moscow hospital where he passed away, he had a protracted and terrible illness.
His health has been deteriorating recently, and he’s been in and out of the hospital. Although his cause of death has not been disclosed, international media reported in June that he had been hospitalised after being diagnosed with a renal condition.
Following the passing of Mr. Gorbachev, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his heartfelt condolences, according to his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
According to US Vice President Joe Biden, Mr. Gorbachev was a “rare leader” who, despite Cold War tensions, had the “imagination to see that a different future was possible”
He was recognized as a “trusted and respected leader” who “opened the way for a free Europe” by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
She continued, “This legacy is one we will not forget.”
The leader of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, expressed admiration for Mikhail Gorbachev’s bravery and integrity, adding: “In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all.”
In 1985, Mr. Gorbachev assumed the role of de facto president and general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.
He was the youngest member of the Politburo at the time, at the age of 54, and was welcomed as a breath of fresh air following several aging leaders. Konstantin Chernenko, who had been in office for less than a year, had passed away at the age of 73.
Few leaders have had such a dramatic impact on world affairs, but Mr. Gorbachev didn’t take office with the intention of loosening the Soviet Union’s hold on eastern Europe. Instead, he wanted to revitalize its culture.
His Perestroika policy sought to bring some market-like reforms to the state-run system because the Soviet economy had been struggling for years to keep up with the US.
Internationally, he concluded arms control agreements with the US, refrained from interfering when Communist governments in eastern European countries were overthrown, and put an end to the brutal Soviet war in Afghanistan that had been raging since 1979.
His glasnost, or openness, policy also made it possible for citizens to criticize the government in ways that were previously unimaginable.
However, it also gave rise to nationalist feelings in many areas of the nation, which ultimately jeopardized the country’s stability and brought about its dissolution.
After a bungled coup attempt by communist hardliners failed in 1991, Mr. Gorbachev agreed to dissolve the Soviet Union and resigned from power.
He is regarded in the West as a reform architect who helped to pave the way for the Cold War’s end in 1991, when there were severe tensions between the Soviet Union and Western countries including the US and Britain.
For “for the leading role he played in the radical changes in East-West relations” he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
But in the new Russia that materialized after 1991, he has remained on the periphery of politics, concentrating on charitable and educational endeavors.
In a misguided attempt to get back into politics, Mr. Gorbachev ran for president in 1996 but only received 0.5% of the vote.
The memorial services that took place after his passing reflected his divided legacy.
In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight program, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger predicted that Mikhail Gorbachev will be “remembered in history as a man who started historic transformations that were to the benefit of mankind and to the Russian people”
According to James Baker, who worked with Mikhail Gorbachev’s administration to negotiate Germany’s reunification, “history will remember Mikhail Gorbachev as a giant who steered his great nation towards democracy”
However, he was never pardoned by many Russians for the unrest that followed the fall of the USSR.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in occupied Ukraine, referred to Mr. Gorbachev as a traitor and claimed that he had “deliberately led the (Soviet) Union to its demise”
He will lay alongside his wife Raisa, who passed away from leukemia in 1999, in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery, which is home to many notable Russians, according to the Tass news agency.