At age 91, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who brought an end to the Cold War, passed away. The Soviet Union was opened to the rest of the world after Mr. Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and instituted reforms. Many Russians held him responsible for the unrest that ensued over many years, but he was powerless to stop the union’s slow decline.
The head of the United Nations even said he had “changed the course of history,” demonstrating his prestige and admiration outside of Russia.
Mikhail Gorbachev Dies At 91
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres remarked, “Mikhail Gorbachev was a one-of-a-kind statesman. 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 been sick for a long time.
His health had deteriorated in recent years, and he had frequent hospital stays. Though his cause of death has not been disclosed, international media outlets reported that he had been hospitalized due to a kidney condition in June.
His final resting place will be the prestigious Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. Whether or not he will be given a state funeral is unclear at this time.
Putin expressed his “deepest condolences” and said that Gorbachev had “a huge impact in the course of history” in his condolence message. The Russian leader praised him, saying, “He deeply understood that reforms were necessary, he strove to offer his own solutions to urgent problems.”
The two men didn’t get along very well, and their last reported meeting was in 2006. Even though he supported Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, recent reports indicate that Gorbachev is unhappy with Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, paid tribute to Mr. Gorbachev, saying that he was inspired by his “courage and integrity” and that “his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all” in light of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, referred to Mikhail Gorbachev as “a rare leader” and lauded him for being a politician with the “imagination to see that a different future was possible” during the height of the Cold War.
He was a “trusted and respected leader” who “opened the way for a free Europe,” as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen put it.
In 1985, Mr. Gorbachev was appointed general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and became the country’s de facto leader.
He was 54 years old, making him the youngest member of the Politburo, the ruling council, and a welcome change from the previous generation of elderly leaders. After only a year in office, his predecessor, Konstantin Chernenko, passed away at 73.
Today, in @PostOutlook, I reflect on Mikhail Gorbachev’s death and why his passing in semi-obscurity is so jarring set against the grand narratives that prevailed when he was a Cold War icon. https://t.co/CYmVSi8YHh pic.twitter.com/vF2hXxpDqa
— Prof. Paul Musgrave, Ph.D. (@profmusgrave) September 2, 2022
After years of falling behind the United States, the Soviet economy desperately needed market-like reforms to help it compete, and this is what his policy of perestroika attempted to do.
He ended the bloody Soviet war in Afghanistan, which had been going on since 1979, made arms control deals with the United States, and stood by as eastern European nations rose up against their Communist rulers.
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