The last and most influential figure in the Soviet Union’s history, Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 91.
Although no details of his illness were given, the Central Clinical Hospital said in a statement that Gorbachev died after a long illness. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered deep condolences over Gorbachev’s death and would send an official telegram to Gorbachev’s family in the morning.
During his term in power of about seven years, Gorbachev unleashed a series of changes in the Soviet Union, but alas, the empire crumbled and led to the Cold War. His power was then hopelessly sapped by an attempted coup against him in August 1991, he spent his last months in the office watching republic after republic declare independence until he resigned on Dec. 25, 1991. The Soviet Union wrote itself into oblivion a day later.
“I see myself as a man who started the reforms that were necessary for the country and for Europe and the world,” Gorbachev told The AP in a 1992 interview shortly after he left office.“I am often asked, would I have started it all again if I had to repeat it? Yes, indeed. And with more persistence and determination,” he said.
Gorbachev won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Cold War and spent his later years collecting accolades and awards from all corners of the world. He then ran for President in 1996 but got only 1% of the vote since Russians blamed him for the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev will be buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery next to his wife.