Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian for peace, is no more

Mikha&iuml ;l Gorbachev, the Russian for peace, is no more

The last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, died Tuesday at the ;age 91 in Russia, said a hospital cited by Russian news agencies.

Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1990

Born Soviet, died Russian, Mikhail Gorbachev was the man of Perestroika and Glasnost. He is best known for his influence in the negotiations that led to the end of the Cold War and which won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. A look back at his life in 10 key moments.

“Humanity faces a myriad of bigger problems. We can only solve these problems together.

— Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev was born in the village of Privolnoye, near Stavropol, in the North Caucasus, into a peasant family. He spent his early years on the collective farm where his father, an agricultural machinery operator, taught him the basics of his job.

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After obtaining a law degree at the University of Moscow, in 1955, he returned to Stavropol and began his rise inside the Communist Party, first in the youth wing, the Komsomol, then into the local party structure, becoming, in 1970, the first secretary of the Stavropol regional committee.

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After the death of Soviet leader Yuri Andropov (1914-1984) and his successor, Konstantin Chernenko (1911-1985), Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Communist Party. At 54, he is the youngest leader of the USSR since Stalin.

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As soon as he was elected, Gorbachev set about reforming the Soviet system by implementing a policy of economic restructuring (perestroika) and allowing greater freedom of expression (glasnost). In order to improve the economic situation of the USSR, he proceeded in particular to a reduction in military expenditure by limiting international commitments, for example by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and the support to communist regimes, including Cuba and the Soviet republics of Europe. In doing so, he opened the floodgates of protest throughout the Soviet world.

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Gorbachev travels to Washington to sign a disarmament agreement with US President Ronald Reagan obliging their respective states to destroy all their ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty also provides for inspections to monitor its application. This is the culmination of a series of high-level encounters that began when Gorbachev took office two years earlier.

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This is the beginning of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Some 120,000 men have 10 months to leave the country they entered in December 1979, supposedly in support of the communist regime. This war left 13,310 dead, 35,478 wounded and 311 missing on the Soviet side.

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Mikhail Gorbachev is elected President by the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union. Created the previous year, the new Russian Parliament inherited much of the powers that the party had. This is another effect of glasnost, which fundamentally changes the political structure of the USSR by implementing representative democracy.

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Mikhail Gorbachev receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to ending the Cold War. A year earlier, the Berlin Wall fell, bringing with it the dislocation of the communist bloc. The Soviet leader played an important role in this process, since the reformist policies he implemented in the USSR gave impetus to revolt movements in several countries of Eastern Europe . By refusing any military intervention to contain the protest, he allowed the dismantling of the iron curtain without bloodshed.

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Gorbachev renounces the presidency of the Soviet Union after a difficult year, marked by an attempted coup that succeeded in marginalizing him, and by the rise of his adversary, Boris Yeltsin. On December 26, the USSR is dissolved.

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Gorbachev runs for president but wins less than 1% of the vote, with many citizens blaming him for the collapse of the #x27;soviet empire. He still remains active in politics, creating a political party in 2008 with billionaire Aleksandr Lebedev, with whom he owns the Novaya Gazeta daily.

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