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Mikhail Gorbachev, last leader of the Soviet Union, dies at 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, died this Tuesday (30). According to information from Sputnik, the former head of state, who was 91 years old, died “after being diagnosed with a serious illness”, but the Russian state agency did not give further details. In June, news broke that Gorbachev was suffering from severe kidney disease.

He was general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and head of state of 1990 until the collapse of the country, in 1991. Gorbachev was actually the first and last president of the Soviet Union, having been elected by Parliament in March 1990.

A source close to the family told the Tass news agency that Gorbachev will be buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow alongside his wife Raisa, who died in 1999.

Gorbachev implemented glasnost policies during his government ( “openness”), which allowed greater freedom of speech and press in the Soviet Union, and perestroika (“restructuring”), which decentralized economic decisions. In international relations, his rapprochement with American President Ronald Reagan (1981-) yielded agreements to reduce nuclear tensions and led to the end of the Cold War.

Unlike Soviet leaders who sent tanks to quell uprisings in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1981, Gorbachev refused to do the same when protests for democracy took place in the communist bloc in 1989.

In his government, the Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred in 1986, the worst of its kind in history. At first, the Soviet power tried to hush up the incident, and the delay in evacuating the surrounding population caused many deaths and health problems.

In 1990, Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize “for the leadership role he played in radical changes in East-West relations.”

In an interview with the Associated Press in 1992, the former Soviet leader said he was proud of his legacy. “I see myself as a man who initiated the necessary reforms for the country, for Europe and for the world,” he said. “I am often asked if I would start all over again if I had to repeat it. Yes indeed. And with more persistence and determination.”

However, in post-communist Russia, he became a kind of scapegoat, as reported in the book “The End of Soviet Man”, by the winning Belarusian deed Nobel Prize in Literature Svetlana Aleksiévitch, due to the end of the Soviet empire and the difficulties faced by the country in the transition to the market economy.

The economist Ruslan Grinberg declared in June, after visiting Gorbachev in the hospital: “He gave freedom to all of us – but we don’t know what to make of it.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed “deep regret for the death of Gorbachev” and “in the morning, he will send a telegram of condolences to family and friends,” the Interfax news agency reported.

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