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Mikhail Gorbachev dead at 91 after being diagnosed with serious illness - Central Clinical Hospital

(Sputnik) -- Gorbachev was the first and last president of the USSR and de facto the last head of the state from 1985 to the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. He was known for his large-scale attempt to reform the country, called “perestroika”, and for defusing international tensions with the West in the last stage of the Cold War.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, (left) and US President George Bush signing bilateral documents during Gorbachev’s official visit to the United States.

Former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev has died at the age of 91, the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow stated on Tuesday.
“Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev died this evening after a serious and long illness,” the hospital told reporters.
The ex-president of the USSR turned 91 this March. At the moment, there are no details regarding the health condition of the politician before his death.
Earlier this summer, rumors of a sharp deterioration in the health of the former Soviet leader emerged, which, however, were dispelled by representatives of the Gorbachev Foundation. It was also reported that in October 2021 he was quarantined in hospital due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The period of his leadership was marked by the some of the most important events in the geopolitical sense: the end of the Cold War, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the collapse of the state itself.
Some saw him as an idealist, others as a reformer, and some even as a traitor and “agent” of the CIA.
In his previous interviews, Gorbachev said that he was morally responsible for everything that happened to the country during his reign. He declared that he fought for the preservation of the Soviet Union “to the last bullet”, but always called the principle of “no bloodshed” his main credo. He allegedly referred to this credo when he refused to suppress the 1991 August coup d’etat attempt by force.
Ordinary Man Who Became the Leader of Superpower
A descendant of peasants, Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931. In 1955, he graduated from the law faculty of Moscow State University. After graduating, he was assigned to the Stavropol Regional Prosecutor’s Office in southern Russia and almost immediately transferred to political Komsomol work.
Gorbachev began his party career in 1962. From 1970 to 1978, he served as First Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee of the Communist Party. He was a member of the party’s Central Committee from 1971 to 1991, and from 1980 to 1991, he was a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee.
In the Central Committee, he initially oversaw the country’s agriculture and food production, but soon began to influence many other areas of the Central Committee’s decisions.
In March 1985, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and was re-elected in July 1990 at the party’s 28th Congress.
Perestroika & Collapse of Soviet Union
During his tenure, at Gorbachev’s own initiative, a large-scale attempt was made to reform the social system in the USSR, which was called “perestroika”. The main goal of perestroika was the comprehensive improvement of the socialist system. This meant the development of democracy, freedom of speech, the expansion of the rights of labor collectives and public organisations, as well as the strengthening of law and order.
Gorbachev’s proclaimed policy of glasnost (maximum transparency in the activities of state institutions and freedom of information) led, in particular, to the adoption in 1990 of a law on the press that abolished state censorship. The USSR president also returned academician Andrei Sakharov from political exile. The process of returning Soviet citizenship to deprived and exiled dissidents began. A broad campaign was also launched to rehabilitate the victims of political repression.
However, by the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, as a result of volatility and inconsistency in the implementation of the comprehensive reforms, as well as the deepening economic crisis, the situation deteriorated in all spheres of Soviet society.
Despite the fact that in 1990 a referendum on the preservation of the USSR as a unified state was held in the country and the majority of the population voted for its preservation, a “parade of sovereignties” began, as the Supreme Soviets of the Union republics, one after another, took decisions on the sovereign right to self-determination, which de facto meant leaving the USSR.
In 1991, Gorbachev tried to promote the draft of a new Union Treaty together with the leaders of 10 republics of the USSR for the sake of preserving the country. However, the day before the scheduled signing in Moscow, on August 19, 1991, members of the Gorbachev cabinet, including the USSR Minister of Defense, attempted to seize power and announced the creation of the State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP).
They demanded that the president, who was on vacation in Crimea, introduce a state of emergency in the country or temporarily transfer power to Vice President Gennady Yanaev. After the failed coup attempt on August 21, 1991, Gorbachev returned to the presidency, but his position was significantly weakened, as his rival, the future first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, gained political weight. On August 24, 1991, Gorbachev announced his resignation from the post of General Secretary of the Central Committee and his withdrawal from the CPSU.
The history of the Soviet state effectively ended on December 25, 1991, a few days before the its 69th birthday, when following the signing of the Belovezhskaya agreements on the liquidation of the USSR by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, Mikhail Gorbachev announced his resignation from his work as Soviet president.

(Latest Update September 1, 2022)

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