Middle East

Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91

“Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev passed away this evening after a serious and long illness,” said Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital.

Gorbachev, who was in power from 1985 to 1991 and helped lift US-Soviet relations out of a deep freeze, was the last surviving leader of the Cold War.

He spent much of the past two decades on the political fringes, intermittently intermittently in the Kremlin, as tensions soared to Cold War levels since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and launched an offensive in Ukraine earlier this year. and called on the White House to mend relations.

Gorbachev spent his later years in and out of hospitals, in increasingly fragile health, and observed self-quarantine during the pandemic as a preventative measure against the coronavirus.

Affectionately nicknamed Gorby in the West, Gorbachev is best known for easing U.S.-Soviet nuclear tensions and liberating Eastern Europe from behind the Iron Curtain in the 1980s.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for negotiating the historic nuclear arms deal with US leader Ronald Reagan and for his decision to withhold Soviet troops when the Berlin Wall fell a year earlier. was seen as key to preserving the Cold War peace.

He was also championed in the West for spearheading reforms to achieve transparency and greater public debate that hastened the collapse of the Soviet empire.

A strained relationship with Putin

The first Russian leader to live past 90, he was congratulated on his 90th birthday by world leaders including US President Joe Biden and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

At home, Gorbachev remained a controversial figure and had a difficult relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For Putin and many Russians, the collapse of the Soviet Union was a tragedy, resulting in a decade of massive poverty and a weakening of Russia’s position on the world stage.

Many Russians still look back fondly on the Soviet era, and Putin is relying on that achievement to strengthen his claim to Russian greatness and his own prestige.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Gorbachev was replaced by the young Boris Yeltsin, who became the first president of post-Soviet Russia.

Since then, Gorbachev has been relegated to the sidelines and devoted himself to education and humanitarian projects.

He made a disastrous attempt to get back into politics, running for president in 1996, but winning only 0.5% of the vote.

Over the years, he has seen many of his major achievements set back by President Putin.

An early supporter of Russia’s leading independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, founded in 1993, he donated part of his Nobel Prize money to buy the first computer.

But the newspaper, like Russia’s independent media in general, came under increasing pressure during Putin’s 20-year rule.

https://www.kuwaittimes.com/mikhail-gorbachev-last-soviet-leader-dead-at-91/ Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91

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