Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid joined international leaders on Wednesday, Aug. 3, in eulogizing former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on TuesdayAug. 30, at age 91 after a lengthy struggle with disease.
“Mikhail Gorbachev was one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary figures,” Herzog said in a statement. “He was a brave and visionary leader, who shaped our world in ways previously thought unimaginable. I was proud to meet him during his 1992 visit to Israel. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”
Lapid issued a statement saying that “Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, passed away yesterday at the age of 91. He was a brave leader and great statesman, who contributed greatly to the rehabilitation of relations between his country and Israel, and opened the gates of the Soviet Union for the great wave of Jewish immigration to Israel in the 1990s.”
Russia’s Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said in a statement that “Gorbachev passed away tonight after a serious and protracted disease.”
Gorbachev was instrumental in helping to end the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States without bloodshed, but failed to prevent the Soviet Union from collapsing, Reuters noted in a report.
He secured armament reduction treaties with the U.S. and alliances with Western powers to lift the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War II and bring Germany back together, the report said.
However, his internal reforms contributed to the Soviet Union’s demise, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has described as the “biggest geopolitical calamity” of the twentieth century.
Putin expressed “his deepest condolences” at news of Gorbachev’s death, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agency Interfax. “Tomorrow he [Putin] will send a telegram of condolences to his family and friends,” said Peskov.