Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet leader, dies at 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, whose attempt to modernize communist control of the Soviet Union unleashed forces that brought down the superpower, has died, Russian news agencies reported Tuesday.

The Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said Gorbachev died after “a long and grave illness. ” He was 91.

Leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 until its dissolution in 1991, Gorbachev tried to revive the moribund communist state by introducing polices of economic and political openness, known as perestroika and glasnost.

One of the major global political figures of the second half of the 20th century, Gorbachev introduced significant political and economic change and presented a more modern, friendlier face to the rest of the world than that of his predecessors atop the Soviet regime. The reforms met with resistance but eventually sparked the end of the Cold War.

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