Mikhail Gorbachev, whose drive to transform the Soviet Union ended the Cold War but inadvertently contributed to the collapse of his own country, has died, according to Russian news agencies. He was 91 years old. The agencies Tass, RIA Novosti and Interfax cited the Central Clinical Hospital, according to the Associated Press.
Gorbachev’s reign as the last Soviet Prime Minister from 1985 to 1991 was indelibly marked by two watchwords: perestroika – literally “restructuring”, but implying reform – and glasnost, or “openness”, symbols of its intention to shake off the torpor caused by seven decades of authoritarian rule and rigid central planning. Hoping to return the Communist Party to its roots in Vladimir Lenin’s October Revolution of 1917, Gorbachev opened the Soviet political system to broader political participation, public scrutiny, and re-examination of the legacy of imprisonment and mass murder of Josef Stalin, sparking years of national soul-searching.