Mikhail Gorbachev who ended the Cold War and the former Soviet leader died at the age of 91. Gorbachev led the Soviet Union from 1985 and introduced reforms until it slowly collapsed in 1991.
Outside Russia, he was widely respected, with the UN chief saying he had “changed the course of history”.
“Mikhail Gorbachev was a one-of-a-kind statesman,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist, and tireless advocate for peace.”
Russian news agencies reported his demise, citing medical sources.
“Gorbachev died this evening after a serious and long illness,” the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said late on Tuesday, as quoted by the Interfax, TASS, and RIA Novosti news agencies.
In recent years he has been in and out of hospitals. The international media reported in June that he had been admitted after suffering from a kidney ailment. Although his cause of death has not yet been announced.
President Vladimir Putin sent his “deepest condolences”, describing how Mr. Gorbachev had had “a huge impact in the course of history”.
“He deeply understood that reforms were necessary, he strove to offer his own solutions to urgent problems,” the Russian leader said.
The two men had a strained relationship. Most recently, Mr. Gorbachev was said to have been unhappy with Mr. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, even though he had supported the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
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According to reports from Aljazeera, US President Joe Biden, who was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Gorbachev was in office, also described the former leader as a “man of remarkable vision”, saying he had the “courage” to “admit that things needed to change” after years of confrontation.
“As a leader of the USSR, he worked with President Reagan to reduce our two countries’ nuclear arsenals,” Biden said in a statement. “After decades of brutal political repression, he embraced democratic reforms. He believed in glasnost and perestroika – openness and restructuring – not as mere slogans, but as the path forward for the people of the Soviet Union after so many years of isolation and deprivation.”
He will be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery, the resting place of his wife, who died in 1999. It is not clear whether he will receive a state funeral.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised him as a “trusted and respected leader” who “opened the way for a free Europe”.
“This legacy is one we will not forget,” she added.
Born into a farming family in southern Russia, Mr. Gorbachev became the general secretary in 1985, at the age of 54 and the youngest member of the ruling council known as Politburo.
Few leaders have had such a profound effect on the global order, but Mr. Gorbachev did not come to power seeking to end the Soviet grip over eastern Europe. Rather, he hoped to revitalize its society.