World hails ‘one-of-a-kind’ Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union who played a major role in ending the Cold War, died in Moscow on 30 August.

He was 91.

World leaders were quick to pay tribute to the man who oversaw the collapse of the USSR, a pivotal turning point in world history.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin expressed his “deep sympathies” over Gorbachev’s death, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Peskov added that Putin, a former KGB agent who had an ambiguous relationship with Gorbachev, will send a telegram of condolences to the late leader’s family and friends on 31 August.

UN chief Antonio Guterres, in a statement, praised Gorbachev as “a one-of-a-kind statesman who changed the course of history” and “did more than any other individual to bring about the peaceful end of the Cold War.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged Gorbachev as a “trusted and respected leader” who “opened the way for a free Europe.”

His “crucial role” in bringing down the Iron Curtain, which symbolized the division of the world into communist and capitalist blocs, and ending the Cold War left a legacy “we will not forget,” Leyen wrote on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron described Gorbachev as a “man of peace” on Twitter on 31 August, saying he “opened a path of liberty for Russians. His commitment to peace in Europe changed our shared history.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “always admired the courage and integrity” Gorbachev showed to bring the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion.

“In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, (Gorbachev’s) tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all,” Johnson said in a Twitter post.

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