One of the great leaders of the 20th century, Mikhail Gorbachev, has passed away in Moscow at the age of 91. He was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union, which altered the course of history. Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday that Gorbachev had passed away at a major hospital in Moscow “after a serious and protracted illness.”

The final living leader of the Cold War, Gorbachev served as president from 1985 to 1991 and was instrumental in thawing icy relations between the US and the Soviet Union. His reforms as the leader of the Soviet Union changed his nation and also enabled Eastern Europe to break free from Soviet authority, making his life one of the most significant of its era.

Mikhail Gorbachev also got Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. He has spent a large portion of the last two decades on the political periphery, occasionally urging the White House and the Kremlin to patch things up as hostilities reached Cold War heights following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the start of its offensive in Ukraine earlier this year.

Despite the occasional difficulties in their relationship, President Putin offered Gorbachev his “deep sympathies” upon learning of his passing. Gorbachev’s health became more precarious in his latter years. He spent much of the epidemic in self-quarantine to protect himself from the coronavirus.

Praised in West

In the West, Gorbachev was well-liked and known as Gorby. Mikhail Gorbachev is best remembered for easing nuclear tensions between the US and the Soviet Union in the 1980s and releasing Eastern Europe from the Iron Curtain. When the Berlin Wall fell a year earlier, his decision to restrain the Soviet army was considered essential to maintaining Cold War peace. 

West also praises Mikhail Gorbachev for initiating changes that increased transparency and public discourse. He was the first Russian leader to live over the age of 90. At home, Gorbachev remained a divisive figure and struggled to get along with Putin.

Putin relies on the accomplishments of the Soviet era to support Russia’s claim to greatness and its status. Although many Russians still have good memories of the Soviet era. The younger Boris Yeltsin succeeded Gorbachev as the USSR disintegrated, becoming the first president of post-Soviet Russia.

Gorbachev devoted himself to charitable and educational endeavors. In a failed attempt to get back into politics, he stood for president in 1996. But Gorbachev received only 0.5 percent of the vote. Over the years, he saw Putin peel about many of his significant accomplishments.

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