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Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, has died at the age of 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, despised by Vladimir Putin and Russian nationalists for ending the Cold War, has died at the age of 91, a Russian news agency has announced.

Mr Gorbachev secured arms reduction deals with the US and partnerships with Western powers to lift the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since the Second World War and bring about the reunification of Germany.

His policy of ‘glasnost’ – free speech – allowed previously unthinkable criticism of the party and the state, but also emboldened nationalists who began to press for independence in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and elsewhere.

While he was revered in the west as a great reformer, many Russians never forgave him for the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

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