Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Gorbachev’s disputed legacy

By Vladislav M. Zubok

30 Aug 2022 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

You should read Foreign Policy's obituary on the late Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, as it gives a comprehensive overview of his life and the impact that he had on history.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, who Russian media reports say died today at age 91 after a long illness, was a rare bright spot in the tragic, grim, blood-splattered history of Russia. Even at his worst moments, he exuded warmth and sparkled with optimism and humor. A passionate political animal, he refused to cling to power for power’s sake.

Such qualities gave Gorbachev the determination to push forward with the policies of perestroika and glasnost—to reform the Soviet Union’s top-down economic system, make its governance more transparent, and allow people more freedom and civil rights. Those qualities also perhaps were the ones he needed to bring a peaceful end to the Cold War—his greatest achievement.

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