Mikhail Gorbachev Wiki
Mikhail Gorbachev Biography
Who was Mikhail Gorbachev ?
The last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, has died at the age of 91, Russian state media reported last night.
He presided over the dissolution of the huge communist state that had existed for almost 70 years.
President Mikhail Gorbachev, seen here in 1990, has died at the age of 91.
Gorbachev and then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher outside Downing Street in 1989.
Gorbachev was the final leader of the communist regime, becoming head of state in 1988 and president in March 1990.
Another great achievement was an arms race treaty he signed with US President Ronald Reagan in 1987.
It lasted more than 30 years and helped end the Cold War.
Reagan knew of Gorby’s vital role in the world and urged him in a 1987 speech: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Two years later, the Berlin Wall fell.
The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he led the Communist Party from 1985 to 1991.
Born into a poor peasant family of Russian and Ukrainian descent, Gorbachev grew up under the rule of Joseph Stalin and drove combine harvesters on a collective farm.
He then joined the Communist Party that ruled the Soviet Union as a one-party state under the Marxist-Leninist regime.
Eventually becoming more interested in social democracy in his political career, or “socialism with a human face”, he became close friends with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
After she realized that he was a potential reformer, he visited Britain at her request in 1984.
At the end of the visit, Mrs. Thatcher said: “I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together.”
Gorbachev fought for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which radically changed Soviet political life.
His free speech policy, known as “glasnost,” allowed criticism of the only political party and inspired nationalists in the Soviet republics to push for independence.
He believed that allowing democracy to enter the Soviet Union was the only way to move towards economic and social recovery.
Gorbachev radically changed Soviet political life when he eliminated the law that ensured that the only legal political organization was the Communist Party.
In April 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred, spreading a radioactive cloud across Europe.
Soviet authorities admit it only three days later, raising questions about glasnost.
Gorbachev transformed Soviet foreign policy by traveling extensively abroad and aimed to convince the world that the USSR was no longer an international threat.
This policy deprived the Soviet Union of ideological enemies, weakening the hold of Soviet ideology on the people.
Following the reunification of Germany, Gorbachev repeatedly floated the idea of replacing NATO and the Warsaw Pact with a confederation of all countries in the “common European home.”
But Western governments feared that this would turn a newly reunited Germany into a neutral state, easily manipulated by Moscow.
Gorbachev fell from power after a failed coup in 1991, which led to the end of the Soviet Union.
Widely considered one of the most significant figures of the second half of the 20th century, he received a wide range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize.
But in his home country, now led by Putin, his legacy was often derided for hastening the Soviet dissolution, leading to a decline in Russia’s global influence.
Towards the end of his life, the former Soviet leader suffered from long-term kidney problems and was on dialysis.
During the Covid pandemic, he was reportedly confined to a clinic.
Gorbachev’s wife, Raisa, the former Soviet first lady, died in 1999.
He will be buried next to her at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is “saddened” to learn that Gorbachev has died, at a “moment of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine”.
In a Twitter post, he said: “Saddened to learn of Gorbachev’s death.
“I have always admired the courage and integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion.
“At a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example for all of us.”
Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer said that Gorbachev was “one of the great figures” of the last century” who “will be remembered forever”.
In a tweet, the Labor Party leader said: “One of the great figures of the 20th century, Mikhail Gorbachev’s quest for reform forged a path for diplomacy over the conflict.
“He will always be remembered as the last leader of the Soviet Union who had the courage and conviction to end the Cold War.”
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “[My] condolences on the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, a man of peace whose elections opened a path of freedom for Russians.
“His commitment to peace in Europe changed our shared history.”
Gorbachev said in a 1992 interview shortly after leaving office: “I see myself as a man who initiated the reforms that were necessary for the country, for Europe, and for the world.
“I am often asked, would I have started all over again if he had to repeat it? Yes indeed. And with more persistence and determination.”
Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov also revealed that Gorbachev was “upset” that his life’s work was being undone by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said: “I can tell you that he is upset. Of course, he understands that… this was his life’s work.
“Freedoms were brought by Gorbachev. Did everyone forget who gave freedom to the Russian Orthodox Church? Who was he? Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev.
‘ONE OF MY HEROES’
Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger has referred to the late Mikhail Gorbachev as “one of my heroes.”
In a tweet, the actor and former California governor said, “There’s an old saying: ‘Never meet your heroes.'”
“I think that’s some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard.
“Mikhail Gorbachev was one of my heroes, and it was an honor and a joy to meet him. I was incredibly lucky to call him a friend.
“All of us can learn from his fantastic life.”
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Gorbachev “performed great services” but “was unable to implement all of his visions”, telling the BBC’s Newsnight: “The people of Eastern Europe and the people German, and in the end the Russian people, I owe you a great debt of gratitude for the inspiration, for the courage to present these ideas of freedom”.
Kissinger, after again acknowledging that Gorbachev failed to implement his full vision, added: “He will still be remembered in history as a man who initiated historic transformations that benefited humanity and the Russian people.”
Broadcaster and author John Simpson has said that he is “really saddened” by the death of “decent” and “well-intentioned” former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
In a Twitter post, Simpson, who interviewed Gorbachev, wrote: “Really sad that Mikhail Gorbachev has died – a decent, well-meaning, principled man who tried to rescue the unrecoverable.”
He added, “In private he was charming and surprisingly funny. It wasn’t his fault things went so wrong.”