Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev addresses the audience after the Russian premiere of the documentary film “Meeting Gorbachev” in Moscow on November 8, 2018.file photo / Reuters

MOSCOW: Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War without bloodshed but failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union, died on Tuesday at the age of 91, a Russian news agency quoted a hospital official as saying.

Gorbachev, the last Soviet president, forged an arms reduction pact with the United States and partnerships with the West to remove the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War II and bring about reunification of Germany. I was.

In 1989, when pro-democracy protests spread across the Soviet-bloc countries of communist Eastern Europe, he refrained from using force. He unlike previous Kremlin leaders who sent tanks to quell riots in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

But the protests, fueling the aspirations of the Soviet Union’s 15 republics for autonomy, collapsed in chaotic fashion over the next two years.

Gorbachev tried in vain to prevent its collapse.

In 1985, at the age of just 54, when he became general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he set out to revitalize the system by introducing limited political and economic freedoms, but his reforms fell short. I was overwhelmed.

His “glasnost” policy – freedom of speech – not only enabled previously unthinkable criticism of the party and the state, but also displaced nationalists who began seeking independence in the Baltic states such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. encouraged me.

Many Russians never allowed the chaos Gorbachev’s reforms unleashed, considering the subsequent decline in living standards too high a price to pay for democracy.

After visiting Gorbachev in hospital on June 30, liberal economist Ruslan Grinberg told military news outlet Zvezda:

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