Mikhail Gorbachev
(1931-present)

Aged 88

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (/ˈɡɔːrbəˌtʃɒf/; Russian: Михаи́л Серге́евич Горбачёв; IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil sʲɪrˈɡʲejɪvʲɪtɕ ɡərbɐˈtɕɵf] ; born 2 March 1931) is a former Soviet statesman. He was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, having been General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, when the party was dissolved. He was the country's head of state from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991 (titled as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and as President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991). Gorbachev was born in Stavropol Krai into a peasant Ukrainian–Russian family, and in his teens, operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law. While he was at the university, he joined the Communist Party, and soon became very active within it. In 1970, he was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee, First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet in 1974, and appointed a member of the Politburo in 1979. Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief "interregna" of Andropov and Chernenko, Gorbachev was elected general secretary by the Politburo in 1985. Before he reached the post, he had occasionally been mentioned in Western newspapers as a likely next leader and a man of the younger generation at the top level. Gorbachev's policies of glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring") and his reorientation of Soviet strategic aims contributed to the end of the Cold War. He removed the constitutional role of the Communist Party in governing the state, which inadvertently led to a surge of regional nationalist and anti-communist demagoguery and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in 1989, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 and the Harvey Prize in 1992, as well as honorary doctorates from various universities. In September 2008, Gorbachev and business oligarch Alexander Lebedev announced they would form the Independent Democratic Party of Russia, and in May 2009 Gorbachev announced that the launch was imminent. This was Gorbachev's third attempt to establish a political party, having started the Social Democratic Party of Russia in 2001 and the Union of Social Democrats in 2007.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Reception house of the Reykjavik city council. In this Historic House on 12 October 1986 the Reykjavik Summit meeting took place between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. This Summit Meeting is regarded as heralding the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Shore Walk, Reykjavik, Iceland where they met (1986)