Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet president who took down the Iron Curtain, dies

Aug 30, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm

FILE: Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev attends a 'meet and greet' in Cologne, Ge...

FILE: Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev attends a 'meet and greet' in Cologne, Germany. (Ralf Juergens/Getty Images)

(Ralf Juergens/Getty Images)

Originally Published: 30 AUG 22 16:35 ET
Updated: 30 AUG 22 16:37 ET


(CNN) — Mikhail Gorbachev — the last leader of the former Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991 — has died at the age of 91.

Gorbachev died after a long illness, Russian state news agencies reported.

“Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev died this evening after a severe and prolonged illness,” the Central Clinical Hospital said, according to RIA Novosti Tuesday.

The man credited with introducing key political and economic reforms to the USSR and helping to end the Cold War had been in failing health for some time.

With his outgoing, charismatic nature, Gorbachev broke the mold for Soviet leaders who until then had mostly been remote, icy figures. Almost from the start of his leadership, he strove for significant reforms, so the system would work more efficiently and more democratically. Hence the two key phrases of the Gorbachev era: “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (restructuring).

“I began these reforms and my guiding stars were freedom and democracy, without bloodshed. So the people would cease to be a herd led by a shepherd. They would become citizens,” he later said.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Gorbachev died at 91.

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Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet president who took down the Iron Curtain, dies