Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War but failed to prevent the disintegration of United Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91, reported news agency ANI, citing Russian news agencies. Gorbachev was suffering from a serious illness for a long time.
“Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev died this evening after a serious and long illness,” said the hospital authorities on Tuesday, according to Sputnik news agency.
President Vladimir Putin expressed his “deep sympathies” on Gorbachev’s death.
“In the morning (Putin) will send a telegram of condolences to his family and friends,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies, as reported by AFP.
World leaders also extended condolences on his demise. UK’s outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he is “saddened” to hear that Mikhail Gorbachev is no more, in a “time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine”.
“I’m saddened to hear of the death of Gorbachev. I always admired the courage & integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion. In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all,” wrote Johnson on his twitter handle.
I’m saddened to hear of the death of Gorbachev. I always admired the courage & integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion. In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 30, 2022
Gorbachev was the last surviving Cold War leader who helped bring US-Soviet relations out of a deep freeze. He was a young and dynamic leader who tried hard to reform the communist regime along the lines of democratic principles between 1985 and 1991 as the president of USSR.
During his tenure, Gorbachev recognised the policy of Glasnost or freedom of speech which was severely curtailed by previous leaders of the country.
Gorbachev also began a program called Perestroika to help Soviet economy recover from hidden inflation and supply shortages. Cultural freedoms were granted to the press and the artistic community during his time.
He is also credited with defusing US-Soviet nuclear tensions in the 1980s. The nuclear disarmament agreement with the United States of America won him Nobel Peace Prize.
It was during his tenure that the Soviet forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan. However, some US media outlets saw it as tacit admission that the invasion in 1979 and the nine-year occupation had been a failure.