The Washington Examiner reported that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev died this week at the age of 91.
Gorbachev attempted to reform the Soviet Union
The paper cited Russian media reports as stating that Gorbachev passed away on Tuesday at Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital where he was being treated for a long-term illness.
Gorbachev was the Soviet Union’s final leader and sought to liberalize the communist regime by promoting policies of “glasnost” and “perestroika,” Russian for “openness” and “reconstruction.”
Tributes to Gorbachev quickly appeared on social media, with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeting that “it was an honor and a joy to meet him.”
There’s an old saying, “Never meet your heroes.” I think that’s some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Mikhail Gorbachev was one of my heroes, and it was an honor and a joy to meet him. I was unbelievably lucky to call him a friend. All of us can learn from his fantastic life. pic.twitter.com/All5suSke1
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) August 30, 2022
Gorbachev’s record continues to be a source on controversy
However, other Twitter users were more critical of Gorbachev’s time in office, which took place during the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
Gorbachev died. His legacy? Russia’s GDP dropped by 40%. Real wages halved. Poverty ballooned from 2.2 million in 1987-88 to 66 million in 1993-95. Millions died under the brutal regime of privatization and shock therapy. Half a million women were trafficked into sexual slavery. pic.twitter.com/2GSvSqFlQ2
— Paweł Wargan (@pawelwargan) August 30, 2022
The results of Gorbachev’s policies were hotly debated among Russians, a fact which was parodied in a Pizza Hut commercial he appeared in.
This Mikhail Gorbachev Pizza Hut commercial is what historians will someday say marked the real end of the cold war and is a masterpiece. pic.twitter.com/CJhZybXVdK
— The Wokest Numbersmuncher (@NumbersMuncher) August 30, 2022
According to Newsweek, Russian journalist Alexei Venidiktov feels that current Russian President Vladimir Putin has effectively done away with Gorbachev’s legacy.
“What Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev did is all destroyed,” Newsweek quoted him as telling Forbes Russia last month. “All Gorbachev’s reforms—to zero, to ashes, to smoke.”
Venidiktov, who was reportedly a friend of Gorbachev, added that the former Soviet leader was bothered by Putin’s decision to invade neighboring Ukraine.