Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union who ended the Cold War without bloodshed, has died in hospital on Tuesday, reported DW, quoting news agencies AP, Reuters, AFP and dpa. He was 91.
Staff at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said he died on Tuesday night "after a serious and protracted disease." No other details were given. However, local media reported that he was suffering from a kidney condition.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his deepest condolences over the former leader's death, a Kremlin spokesperson said.
The official news agency TASS reported Gorbachev will be buried at Moscow's Novodevichy cemetery next to his wife.
The world reacts
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Gorbachev was "a one-of-a kind statesman who changed the course of history."
Guterres said the former Soviet leader did more than any other individual to bring about a peaceful end to the Cold War.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also hailed Gorbachev as a "trusted and respected" leader who helped bring down the Iron Curtain.
Meanwhile British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he admired Gorbachev's "courage and integrity" as the Cold War drew to a close.
"In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all," Johnson added.
A lasting legacy
From 1985 until the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991, Gorbachev oversaw a massive overhaul of the country's economic and political policies.
His policy of glasnost, or openness, allowed previously unthinkable criticism of the Communist Party and the state, but it also emboldened calls for independence in the Soviet Union's constituent republics — first in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and then elsewhere.
As the last Soviet leader, Gorbachev forged arms reduction reals with the United States and partnerships with the West to remove the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War II, which saw the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.
"The era of Gorbachev is the era of perestroika, the era of hope, the era of our entry into a missile-free world … but there was one miscalculation: we did not know our country well," said Vladimir Shevchenko, who headed Gorbachev's protocol office when he was Soviet leader. "Our union fell apart, that was a tragedy and his tragedy."
Although he was lionised in the West, many Russians never forgave Gorbachev for the turbulence that his reforms unleashed, considering the subsequent plunge in living standards to be too high a price to pay for democracy.
After visiting Gorbachev in hospital on June 30, liberal economist Ruslan Grinberg told the armed forces news outlet Zvezda: "He gave us all freedom — but we don't know what to do with it."