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Gorbachev, who brought democracy to Soviet republics, is no more

Mikhail Gorbachev had in 2019 warned about the danger of tensions between Russia and the West rearing its head once more: BBC

The unintentional architect of Soviet liquidation, Gorbachev was a "rare leader" who had the "imagination to see that a different future was possible", said Biden. While the UN chief tweeted his tribute that he was a one-of-a kind statesman, who "changed the course of history", Dr Henry Kissinger would see him as a man who started historic transformations.

MOSCOW, Aug 31: Former Soviet President, who was instrumental in bringing the Cold War to a close, who ushered in democracy into the republics, who 'presided' over the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev died at 91 due to protracted illness in a hospital in Moscow on Tuesday. The immediate cause of his death has not been announced, however, it was reported he had lately suffered kidney failure and was in and out of hospital.

Gorbachev received mixed tributes at death - boquets from overseas and brickbats from home, where some did not hesitate to call him a traitor.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, aks Gorby, was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 was a precursor to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War between the West and the Soviet bloc.

The Cold War was triggered by the overflow of tensions following Second World War and fuelled by the ideological differences between the USSR and the West, which always felt threatened by fast spreading communism. The emergence of nuclear weapons had added teeth to the rivalry.

After he took over in 1985, Gorbachev, a dedicated reformer, introduced the policies of glasnost and perestroika (openness and reforms) in the USSR and lifted the iron curtain that insulated the Soviet bloc from the rest of the world. At a time the "State" was doing everything, he brought some market reforms in terms of 'perestroika.'

The former Soviet President had entered into arms control deals with the US. He ended the Afghan war. And he did not resist when the Republics broke away. After the breakup he left the seat of power and remained in the sidelines except for once he made a failed attempt to come back.

The Soviet Union was composed of 15 republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia (now Belarus), Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya (now Kyrgyzstan), Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia (now Moldova), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

He will be buried in Moscow's Novodevichy cemetery, the resting place of many prominent Russians, next to his wife Raisa who died of leukaemia in 1999, Tass news agency said.

Significantly, Mikhail Gorbachev had in 2019 warned about the danger of tensions between Russia and the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences.

US President Joe Biden called him a "rare leader" and praised Gorbachev as a unique politician who had the "imagination to see that a different future was possible."

UN chief António Guterres tweeted his tribute, "(he) changed the course of history. Mikhail Gorbachev was a one-of-a kind statesman. The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist and tireless advocate for peace."

Dr Henry Kissinger, a former US Secretary of State and an authority on international relations, said Gorbachev would be "remembered in history as a man who started historic transformations that were to the benefit of mankind and to the Russian people".

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