Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the Soviet Union, Nobel Peace Prize winner and co-founder of Novaya Gazeta, passed away on 30 August, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reports citing Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital.

Photo: Novaya Gazeta

Photo: Novaya Gazeta

Gorbachev passed away at 91 years of age.

According to Russian government news agency TASS, Gorbachev will be buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery next to his late wife Raisa. Gorbachev was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991, and was the last man to occupy that post. In the late 1980s, Gorbachev became Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, later becoming Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and eventually becoming the first and only president of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991.

In 1989, Gorbachev oversaw the end of the 10-year Soviet-Afghan war. The following year, in 1990, Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the peace process between the West and the USSR — effectively, for his efforts in ending the Cold War.

During Gorbachev's tenure at the helm of the Soviet Union, he championed the political movement of “perestroika” (“restructuring”), which was announced as state policy in 1987. The programme introduced reforms that would change the political and economic structure of the USSR. As a result, “glasnost” (“openness”), a policy of transparency in government activities and freedom of information was introduced, censorship was abolished and relations with the West improved. Gorbachev remained in power during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On 25 December 1991, he resigned as president of the USSR — on the following day, 26 December 1991, the Council of Republics of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet passed a declaration on the dissolution of the Soviet Union, cementing its downfall.

In 1993, Gorbachev co-founded Novaya Gazeta, acquiring a 10% stake in the newspaper.

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