Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
Last Soviet Union Leader Mikhail Gorbachev Dies At 91 Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev died on Tuesday at the age of 91. He was known for his efforts in ending the Cold War without bloodshed as he forged deals in arms reduction with the United States and other Western countries. He is the last Soviet president whose reforms saw the removal of the Iron Curtain that caused the divide in Europe during World War II.

Gorbachev passed away Tuesday evening after losing a long battle with a serious undisclosed disease, Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital said. Sources close to the family stated the former leader’s wish is to be buried next to his wife Raisa in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery.

According to a former Moscow correspondent for the Irish Times, Conor O’ Clery, Gorbachev was “embittered” since leaving office when the Soviet Union collapsed. Despite paving the way for an open and free Europe, his internal reforms contributed to the weakening of the Soviet Union, Al Jazeera reported.

Vladimir Putin reached out to express his condolences over the former Soviet leader’s demise through a Kremlin spokesman who said the leader will be sending a telegram to Gorbachev’s family and friends. Several world leaders were quick to pay their last respects including United States President Joe Biden. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also gave his condolences and cited Gorbachev’s “tireless commitment” to opening the Soviet society.

While Gorbachev has been lauded for bringing the Soviet Union and the West much closer, his legacy may have just seen its last trail blaze with Russia facing Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine as the nation and the West could be on the verge of a new Cold War.

"Gorbachev died in a symbolic way when his life's work, freedom, was effectively destroyed by Putin," said Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Not everything was peachy for Gorbachev during his rule, in fact, a lot of Russians have found it hard to forgive the Soviet president for the reforms he imposed, With the living standards of the country at an all-time low during his regime, many say this was a steep price to pay for democracy. Some had even called Gorbachev a traitor, saying he had deliberately led the Soviet Union to its eventual demise.

Liberal economist Ruslan Grinberg, who visited Gorbachev in the hospital in June told the armed forced media outlet: "He gave us all freedom - but we don't know what to do with it.”

Mikhail Gorbachev
Former head of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev speaks during the presentation of his book "I Remain an Optimist" at a book store in Moscow on October 10, 2017. Photo by Vasily Maximov/AFP via Getty Images

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.