As the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who fought a losing battle to save his crumbling empire but produced the extraordinary reforms that led to the end of the Cold War, has died at the age of 91.

Citing a statement from Central Clinical Hospital, the press said he died after a long illness.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement provided by the Russian news agency that President Vladimir Putin expressed his deepest condolences over the death of Mr Gorbachev and sent an official telegram to his family in the morning. Said he would send it.

In less than seven years in power, Mr. Gorbachev brought about a breathtaking series of changes that quickly overtook him and led to the collapse of the authoritarian Soviet state, Russia brought about the liberation of Eastern European countries from the rule of the Nuclear confrontation in the West.

His power was undermined by an attempted coup against him in August 1991. He spent the last months of his presidency watching over the republic after it declared independence until his resignation on Christmas Day 1991.

The Soviet Union fell into oblivion the next day.

Mikhail Gorbachevin 1990 (David Longstreath/AP)

A quarter-century after the collapse, Mr. Gorbachev told the Associated Press that he had never thought of using large-scale force to unite the Soviet Union because he feared chaos in the nuclear powers.

“The country was overrun with weapons, and that would have plunged the country into civil war at once,” he said.

Many of the changes, including the collapse of the Soviet Union, were nothing like the changes he envisioned when he became leader of the Soviet Union in March 1985.

By the end of his reign, he had lost the power to stop the whirlwind he sowed, but he may have had more influence than any other politician in the late 20th century.

“I see myself as the man who initiated the necessary reforms for the country, for Europe and for the world,” he said shortly after his resignation.

“People often ask me, if I had to do the same thing over and over again, would I have started over? Yes, I did. And with more persistence and determination,” he said.

Mr. Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his work in ending the Cold War, and in his later years attracted accolades and awards from around the world, but was widely despised at home.

Russians blamed him for the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. His former allies deserted him, making him a scapegoat for the country’s troubles.

As soon as he took power, Mr. Gorbachev launched a campaign to use “glasnost” or openness to end his country’s economic and political stagnation in order to achieve the goals of “perestroika” or restructuring. did.

1991, Mikhail Gorbache and Boris Yeltsin (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

In his memoirs, he said he had long felt frustrated with tens of millions of people living in poverty in a country with vast natural resources.

“Our society has become suffocated by a bureaucratic command system,” he wrote. “Destined to serve ideology and bear the burden of an arms race, I was extremely nervous.”

As he started, one move led to another. He freed political prisoners, allowed open debate and multi-candidate elections, gave his people freedom to travel, ended religious repression, reduced nuclear weapons, and closer ties with the West. and did not resist the fall of communist regimes in the satellite states of Eastern Europe.

However, the power he unleashed soon escaped his control.

Long-repressed ethnic tensions have risen, sparking wars and unrest in conflict areas such as the Southern Caucasus region. Strikes and labor unrest followed rising prices and shortages of consumer goods.

In one of the worst periods of his tenure, Mr. Gorbachev sanctioned a crackdown on the recalcitrant Baltics in early 1991.

Violence turned many intellectuals and reformers against him. The highly competitive election has also produced a new batch of populist politicians challenging his policies and authority.

Chief among them was his former protégé and eventual nemesis Boris Yeltsin, who became Russia’s first president.

“The process of rebuilding this country and bringing about fundamental changes in the international community has turned out to be much more complicated than originally anticipated,” Gorbachev told the nation upon his resignation.

“But let us admit what has been achieved so far. Society has gained freedom. It has been liberated politically and spiritually. I haven’t learned how to use it yet, so I don’t fully understand it.”

The world benefited from the changes Mr. Gorbachev brought about, but in the process the Soviet economy collapsed, causing enormous economic hardship for its 290 million people.

At the end of the Soviet Union, economic decline accelerated into a sharp skid. Hyperinflation robbed most seniors of their life savings, factories closed and bread lines formed.

Popular hatred of Mr. Gorbachev and his wife Raisa grew, but in the summer of 1999 the couple won sympathy when it was revealed that Mrs. Gorbachev was dying of leukemia.

Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Gorbachev (2004) (Heribert Proepper/AP)

Mr. Gorbachev vacillates between criticism and mild praise for Mr. Putin, who has been criticized for postponing the democratic achievements of the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras.

Mr Putin said much had been done to restore stability and prestige in Russia after the turbulent decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but protested increasing restrictions on press freedom, In 2006, he acquired Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s last investigative newspapers, with a businessman. Buddies, colleagues.

In his 70s he ventured into other new fields and won awards and honors around the world. He won a Grammy Award in 2004 for his recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, along with former US President Bill He Clinton and Italian actress Sophia Loren, and in 2006 the United Nations recognized him for his environmental advocacy. was named champion of the earth.

Gorbachev had a daughter, Irina, and two granddaughters.

State news agency TASS reported that Gorbachev will be buried next to his wife at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery.

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