Russia Obit Gorbachev

FILE - U.S. President Ronald Reagan, right, talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during arrival ceremonies at the White House where the superpowers begin their three-day summit talks in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1987. Russian news agencies are reporting that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has died at 91. The Tass, RIA Novosti and Interfax news agencies cited the Central Clinical Hospital. 

BERLIN — Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union and for many the man who restored democracy to then-communist-ruled European nations, was saluted Wednesday as a rare leader who changed the world and for a time brought hope for peace among the superpowers.

But the man who died Tuesday at 91 was also reviled by many countrymen who blamed him for the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union and its diminution as a superpower. The Russian nation that emerged from its Soviet past shrank in size as 15 new nations were created.

The loss of pride and power also eventually led to the rise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tried for the past quarter-century to restore Russia to its former glory and beyond.

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