Noble Prize Winner, Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says Gudbye at 91

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Mikhail Gorbachev, the former head of the Soviet Union and a key figure at the end of the Cold War, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91.

Without offering any other details, Russian media announced his passing and quoted the hospital that was attending to him as stating he passed away due to a “severe and protracted sickness.”

In the late 1980s, Gorbachev’s signature glasnost and perestroika initiatives helped the Soviet Union confront its history, liberalize society, open up its economy, and engage with Western leaders on weapons control. Along with addressing Chornobyl, he coordinated the USSR’s withdrawal of soldiers from an almost ten-year combat effort in Afghanistan.

Given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, he was seen as a visionary by many people overseas, including President Ronald Reagan. His legacy is more problematic at home, where many people believed he was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union.

He considered himself a member of the Second World War’s children’s generation.

He was born in the southern Russian hamlet of Privolnoye in 1931. He was a farmer’s son and was skilled at using agricultural machinery. He was also familiar with war’s horrors.

Years later, in an interview with the Academy of Achievement, Gorbachev claimed that growing up seeing the Nazi occupation of his hamlet had a profound impact on him.

All of this was taking on in front of our eyes and the kids’ eyes, he claimed. “So as you can see, I am a member of the generation known as “children of the war.” We still have a terrible and significant scar from the conflict. This is a constant, and it’s what made a lot of the decisions in my life.”

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Gorbachev never wanted to see global strife again, leaving him determined to make the world less distrustful of communism.

When he was chosen Soviet leader in 1985, he was already at work interacting with Western leaders like British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had given him a historic support in 1984. He was a rising star in the Communist Party.

She remarked, “I like Mr. Gorbachev.” “We can conduct business jointly.”

One of Gorbachev’s closest advisors, Andrei Grachev, compared that support to a Frank Sinatra song.

“‘If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,’ goes the famous Sinatra song. He would thus be prepared and capable of doing it with anybody else if he could convince himself that he could do it with Thatcher “said Grachev.

In 1985, Grachev went to Paris with his employer for a press conference with François Mitterrand of France. The Gorbachev administration was used to giving Soviet media prewritten questions. Gorbachev, however, did the unimaginable and answered all of the inquiries from the media.

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“I have my shirt wet, like labouring in the field, he replied. Grachev remembers, “He had to answer quite a few questions at the moment, so it was pretty heated to me.”

A poor farming family’s son named Gorbachev had entered the international stage.

According to Grachev, “that was sort of the pride of a peasant who had achieved something, of which he was proud.”

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