World leaders pour tributes to ‘one of a kind’ Gorbachev

As a boy Gorbachev was bright and hard working. At 16 he was awarded the Red Banner of Labour for helping in a record harvest, and in 1950 he won a coveted place at Moscow State University to study law.

Five years later, the ambitious graduate and his young wife Raisa moved back to Stavropol, where he began a rapid rise through the ranks of the Communist Party, becoming the youngest member of the Politburo, at age 49, in 1979.

– Russian President Vladimir Putin – Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin expressed his ‘deep sympathies’ over Gorbachev’s death, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Peskov added that Putin, a former KGB agent who had an ambiguous relationship with Gorbachev, will send a telegram of condolences to the late leader’s family and friends on Wednesday morning.

– UN chief Antonio Guterres – Guterres in a statement praised Gorbachev as ‘a one-of-a-kind statesman who changed the course of history’ and ‘did more than any other individual to bring about the peaceful end of the Cold War’.

– EU chief Ursula von der Leyen – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed Gorbachev as a ‘trusted and respected leader’ who ‘opened the way for a free Europe’.

His ‘crucial role’ in bringing down the Iron Curtain, which symbolised the division of the world into communist and capitalist blocs, and ending the Cold War left a legacy ‘we will not forget’, she wrote on Twitter.

– British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – The British leader said he ‘always admired the courage and integrity’ Gorbachev showed to bring the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion.

‘In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all,’ he said in a Twitter post, referring to Moscow’s offensive in its former Soviet neighbour.

– French President Emmanuel Macron – Macron on Wednesday praised Gorbachev as a ‘man of peace’.

The French leader on Twitter sent his ‘condolences for the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, a man of peace whose choices opened up a path of liberty for Russians. His commitment to peace in Europe changed our shared history’.