Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War, dies aged 91, Russian media reports

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MOSCOW, Aug. 30 (Reuters) – Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War without bloodshed but failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union, died Tuesday at the age of 91, Russian news agencies say.

Gorbachev, the last Soviet president, forged arms reduction deals with the United States and partnerships with Western powers to remove the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War II and bring about the reunification of Germany.

“Michail Gorbachev passed away tonight after a serious and prolonged illness,” the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s Central Clinical Hospital as saying in a statement.

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Gorbachev will be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery next to his wife Raisa, who died in 1999, Tass news agency said, citing a source familiar with the family’s wishes.

When pro-democracy protests swept through the Soviet bloc countries of communist Eastern Europe in 1989, he refrained from using force — unlike previous Kremlin leaders who had sent tanks to crush uprisings in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. .

But the protests fueled the drive for autonomy in the 15 republics of the Soviet Union, which disintegrated chaotically over the next two years.

Gorbachev struggled in vain to prevent that collapse.

When he became general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985, aged just 54, he set out to revive the system by introducing limited political and economic freedoms, but his reforms spiraled out of control.

His policy of “glasnost” – freedom of expression – allowed previously unthinkable criticism of the party and the state, but also encouraged nationalists who began pushing for independence in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and elsewhere.

Many Russians have never forgiven Gorbachev for the turbulence his reforms created, as the subsequent drop in their standard of living was too high a price to pay for democracy.

After visiting Gorbachev in hospital on June 30, liberal economist Ruslan Grinberg told Zvezda news channel: “He gave us all the freedom — but we don’t know what to do with it.”

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Reporting by David Ljunggren; written by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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