Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has died at age 91, according to multiple Russian news agencies on Tuesday afternoon.
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Russian reports cited a statement from Central Clinic Hospital that confirmed Gorbachev’s death, which they said occurred after a long illness.
Gorbachev had assumed Soviet leadership in 1985 and after six years of his leadership, he became known as a great reformer of the 20th century.
His reform policies helped bring on the collapse of the communist Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the Cold War with the U.S, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
He had also signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with President Ronald Reagan in 1987.
On June 12, 1987, Reagan had given one of his most famous public speeches in which hhe called on Gorbachev to bring down the wall that once divided the German city of Berlin into East and West halves.
“There remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar,” Reagan had said.
“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” he said.
The wall continued to stand for more than two years before East and West Berliners began to break down the barrier on November 9, 1989.
According to a U.S. State Department history, Gorbachev resigned from office in August of 1991. On December 25, 1991, the Soviet hammer and sickle flag was lowered from the Russian Kremlin and thereafter replaced by the Russian tricolor, signifying the modern Russian government.
In 2019, Gorbachev had called on nuclear powers to destroy their nuclear weapons to “save ourselves and our planets,” lamenting that “the danger is colossal” from nuclear weapons. At the time, he had described tensions between Russia and the US as “chilly, but still a war.”