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Ex-Soviet Union Leader Mikhail Gorbachev Dies

Ex-Russian President Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev is dead.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has died at age 91, Russian state media reported and his personal press secretary Vladimir Polyakov confirmed to CBS News.

His cause of death was not immediately released, but Gorbachev’s office had said earlier that he was undergoing treatment at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow, according to The Associated Press.

Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday that he died in Moscow at the age of 91 years.

“Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev died this evening after a serious and long illness,” the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said, quoted by the Interfax, TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies.

Gorbachev, who was in power between 1985 and 1991 and helped bring US-Soviet relations out of a deep freeze, was the last surviving Cold War leader.

He spent much of the last two decades on the political periphery, intermittently calling for the Kremlin and the White House to mend ties as tensions soared to Cold War levels since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and launched an offensive in Ukraine earlier this year.

Gorbachev spent the twilight years of his life in and out of hospital with increasingly fragile health and observed self-quarantine during the pandemic as a precaution against the coronavirus.

Gorbachev was remembered fondly in the West, where he was referred to affectionately by the nickname Gorby and best known for defusing US-Soviet nuclear tensions in the 1980s as well as bringing Eastern Europe out from behind the Iron Curtain.

He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for negotiating a historic nuclear arms pact with US leader Ronald Reagan and his decision to withhold the Soviet army when the Berlin Wall fell a year earlier was seen as key to preserving Cold War peace.

He was also championed in the West for spearheading reforms to achieve transparency and greater public discussion that hastened the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Born into a farming family in 1931 in what was then the Soviet Union, Gorbachev went to Moscow to study law, joined the Communist Party and met and married Raisa Gorbacheva. Together, they went on to change the face of Communism.

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