Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has passed away at the age of 91, according to Russian news outlets.
Gorbachev was reportedly undergoing treatment at Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow after suffering from a long illness.
Having ended the Cold War without violence, Gorbachev became a notable figure of the late 20th century and was recognised for his contribution to “the radical changes in East-West relations” with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
Born March 2, 1931, Gorbachev grew up under the rule of Joseph Stalin and developed political aspirations early in life when joined the Communist Party.
During his time studying law at Moscow State University, Gorbachev married fellow student Raisa Titarenko in 1953 before graduation in 1955.
He later moved to Stavropol, where he began he work for the Komsomol youth organization and was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee in 1970, where he oversaw the construction of the Great Stavropol Canal.
He returned to Moscow in 1978 and become a Secretary of the party’s Central Committee. Gorbachev was elected as the de facto head of government in the position of General Secretary in 1985 following the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
Gorbachev was the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union and also the country’s head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and president of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991.
Although committed to preserving the Soviet state and to its socialist ideals, Gorbachev believed significant reform was necessary, particularly following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
He withdrew from the Soviet-Afghan War and took part in a number of summits with President of the United States Ronald Reagan in an effort to end the Cold War and limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Domestically, the press and freedom grew following his policy of openness. However, rising sentiment from nationalists posed a threat to the potential break up of the Soviet Union which resulted in an unsuccessful coup in 1991.
Despite Gorbachev’s efforts, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Gorbachev then resigned as leader and went on to launch the Gorbachev Foundation which campaigned for Russia’s social-democratic movement and became a prominent critic of Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin.
As the news of Gorbachev’s death spread across the globe, high-profile figures joined political commentators in offering tributes and messages of condolence to the late political identity.
Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed that “it was an honor and a joy to meet” Gorbachev.
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 unbelievably lucky to call him a friend. All of us can learn from his fantastic life. pic.twitter.com/All5suSke1
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) August 30, 2022
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “saddened to hear of the death of Gorbachev”.
I’m saddened to hear of the death of Gorbachev.
I always admired the courage & integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion.
In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 30, 2022
The last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, has died. pic.twitter.com/aX2SBqfqS0
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) August 30, 2022
Sad to read of the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev. Hard to think of other individuals who changed the course of world history in a positive direction more than he did. Always enjoyed our conversations.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) August 30, 2022
Mikhail Gorbachev, last USSR president, died at age 91. pic.twitter.com/cCJ9ZfKRBv
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) August 30, 2022
One of the great figures of the 20th Century, Mikhail Gorbachev’s pursuit of reform forged a path for diplomacy over conflict.
He will forever be remembered as the last leader of the Soviet Union who had the courage and conviction to end the Cold War.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) August 30, 2022
Really sad that Mikhail Gorbachev has died: a decent, well intentioned, principled man who tried to rescue the unrescuable. ‘I studied the law & saw it wasn’t observed in our country.’ In private he was charming & surprisingly amusing. It wasn’t his fault things went so wrong.
— John Simpson (@JohnSimpsonNews) August 30, 2022
Gorbachev will reportedly be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery alongside his late wife Raisa.