Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who brought the Cold War to a peaceful end, has died aged 91.
Who was Gorbachev?
- Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – 2022) was a Russian and Soviet politician who served as the last leader of the Soviet Union.
- As the country’s head of state from 1988 to 1991, he served as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990 and President of the Soviet Union from 1990 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
- Ideologically, Gorbachev initially adhered to Marxism–Leninism, but he moved towards social democracy by the early 1990s.
- Gorbachev believed significant reform was necessary, particularly after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
- He withdrew from the Soviet–Afghan War and embarked on summits with United States president Ronald Reagan to limit nuclear weapons and end the Cold War.
- Domestically, his policy of glasnost (“openness”) allowed for enhanced freedom of speech and press, while his perestroika (“restructuring”) sought to decentralise economic decision-making to improve efficiency.
- The recipient of a wide range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, he was widely praised for his pivotal role in ending the Cold War.