The last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is dead.

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

“Michail Sergeevich Gorbachev died tonight after a serious and prolonged illness,” the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said, quoted by the news agencies Interfax, TASS and RIA Novosti.

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

He spent much of the last two decades on the political periphery, intermittently calling on the Kremlin and the White House to restore 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 in increasingly fragile health and took self-quarantine during the pandemic as a precaution against the coronavirus.

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

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

He was also championed in the West for leading reforms to achieve transparency and greater public discussion that hasten the disintegration of the Soviet empire.

AFP

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