Mikhail Gorbachev Dies at 91 – A Look Back at His Life and Legacy

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The 91-year-old former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, instrumental in ending the Cold War, died Tuesday.

His death was reported by Russian media, citing the hospital that treated him as saying that he died of a “serious and protracted illness.”

Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika policies helped open up the Soviet economy and liberalize society in the late 1980s, confront the Soviet past, and engage in arms control negotiations with Western leaders. 

Besides overseeing the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, he was also responsible for the management of the Chernobyl disaster in the USSR.

Many people abroad, including President Ronald Reagan, saw him as a visionary when he won the  Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. 

The legacy of his presidency is complicated at home, where many viewed him as one of the people responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, to dig up his life journey, read this article till the end. Let’s start:

Gorbachev’s Early Years

His birthplace is Privolnoye, a village in the south of Russia. Being a peasant’s son, he was familiar with farm equipment. Additionally, he was familiar with war’s horrors.

The Nazi occupation of Gorbachev’s village as a boy shaped his life; he told the Academy of Achievement years later.

“We watched this all unfold right in front of our eyes, the eyes of the children,” he said. I am a child of the war generation. The war has left a lot of marks on us. This is permanent, and it determines a lot of things in my life.”

As a result of seeing global conflict again, Gorbachev was determined to make communism less feared.

Having received a historic endorsement by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, he was already at work engaging Western leaders like Margaret Thatcher before he was named Soviet leader in 1985.

“I like Mr. Gorbachev,” she said. “We can do business together.”

The endorsement was compared to a Frank Sinatra song by Gorbachev’s closest adviser Andrei Grachev.

In 1985, Grachev traveled to Paris with his boss to attend a news conference with French President François Mitterrand. During Gorbachev’s tenure, Soviet reporters were used to receiving scripted questions. In spite of this, Gorbachev answered all the questions reporters threw at him.

Gorbachev Takes Over Nuclear Nonproliferation

President Ronald Reagan then became Gorbachev’s target. Communism was the world’s cheerleader under the Soviet leader, which Reagan considered evil.

In spite of this, the two men believed they did not have to point nuclear weapons at each other. As a result of reaching that shared goal, they formed a surprising bond.

 “Though my pronunciation may give you a little trouble, the maxim is, ‘Doveryai, no proveryai’ — trust but verify,” Reagan infamously said at their meeting.

Gorbachev’s  retort — “You repeat that at every meeting!” — was met with laughter.

Reagan’s sense of self-assurance sent a message that it was OK to like this Russian. Gorbachev and his glamorous wife, Raisa, visited the world. “Gorby mania” had struck, including on the sidewalks of Washington, D.C., as the Soviet leader left the motorcade to touch the palms of Americans.

One of Reagan’s most famous speeches, delivered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1987, was prepared by Jack Matlock, Reagan’s adviser on Soviet affairs.

In the months before Reagan made his historic demand of Gorbachev, the White House gave the Kremlin almost no warning. Matlock, however, said that it was not necessary.

“Matlock says they both understood the importance of direct communication rather than getting swept up in what each said during speeches.

To applause, Reagan urged Gorbachev, “If you want peace, prosperity, and liberalization for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, then come here to this gate and open it.” “Take this wall down, Mr. Gorbachev.”

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Hard-Liners in the Soviet Union Held Him Hostage in Crimea

He was vulnerable to hard-liners from Moscow. Gorbachev was taken hostage in Crimea during the summer of 1991 by the head of the KGB. It was a death sentence for the country, Gorbachev told his guests.

Gorbachev recalled: “I told them that you wouldn’t live that long, so you’ll have to resign.” “Tell those who sent you that. There is nothing else I can say.”

As a final act of defiance, it was an act of defiance. After receiving the message, Gorbachev returned to Moscow. Four months after he was appointed, he resigned.

 Final Wrap Up!

According to Gorbachev, a lasting democracy requires a fight. However, if you want more information, visit our website  now!

 

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