Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral: Russians bid farewell to the last leader of the Soviet Union

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev poses for a photo in 2009.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev’s beginnings were humble: he was born into a peasant family in Privolny on March 2, 1931. Here, he is with his parents in Privolnoy.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev with his maternal grandparents, Panteli and Vasilisa Gobkalo, circa 1937.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev, far right, poses for a photo with his classmates, circa 1947.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev, wearing the hat, was seen with his classmates in the 1940s.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev, shown here in 1984, became a member of the Communist Party in 1952 and completed his law degree from Moscow University in 1955. By the end of the 1960s, he had risen to the top of the party hierarchy in the Stavropol region.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pose for a photo in London as they meet in December 1984. Thatcher once described him as “a man one can do business with.”

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev, front center, attended the International Women’s Day gala in Moscow in March 1985. He became a full member of the Politburo in 1980, and rose to the top of the party in 1985. This effectively made him the leader of the Soviet Union.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev follows coffin carriers carrying the coffin of his predecessor as Soviet leader, Konstantin Chernenko, on Moscow’s Red Square in March 1985.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan held a historic “chat” in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 1985. The two held a series of summit talks.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and Reagan attend the closing ceremony of the Geneva Summit in November 1985.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, were welcomed to Prague, Czechoslovakia, in April 1987.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev visiting Bucharest, Romania, in May 1987.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev waves during a military parade in Moscow in November 1987.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev speaking with Reagan at the start of a summit in Washington, D.C., in December 1987.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and Reagan signed an arms control agreement in December 1987 banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev shakes hands with businessman – and future US president – Donald Trump at the US State Department in December 1987. It was before a lunch in Gorbachev’s honor.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev showing Reagan around Red Square during Reagan’s visit to Moscow in May 1988.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev, lower right, and Politburo members vote to remove Andrei Gromyko, lower centre, as head of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in October 1988. Gorbachev will then succeed him in this position.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev visits New York with Reagan and US Vice President George HW Bush in December 1988.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

A Moscow woman and her cat watch Gorbachev’s New Year’s message in December 1988.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and Cuban President Fidel Castro wave during Gorbachev’s visit to Cuba in April 1989.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev salutes East German leader Erich Honecker after his arrival in East Berlin in October 1989.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev addresses a group of San Francisco business executives in 1990.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Coretta Scott King awarded Gorbachev the Albert Einstein Prize for his contribution to peace in June 1990.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev gives a speech after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in June 1991. He was awarded “for his pioneering role in the peace process that today characterizes important parts of the international community.”

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev shakes hands with Bush, then president, in Moscow in July 1991.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev rubbed his eyes while speaking in Moscow in August 1991. He threatened to resign if the Soviet Union collapsed. That month, his country’s hardliners staged a revolution while Gorbachev was on vacation in Crimea. Boris Yeltsin, head of the largest Soviet republic and a fierce critic of what he saw as Gorbachev’s half-way reforms, came to Gorbachev’s rescue, as he confronted and defeated the coup plotters.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev held a press conference the day after his return from Crimea in August 1991. He was detained in his country house by coup plotters who tried to remove him from power in order to halt economic reform policies. The coup leaders publicly stated that Gorbachev was stepping down due to ill health. Here, Gorbachev holds a wrinkled note that he hid on his body to explain what actually happened in the event he was killed.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev finished his resignation speech after he delivered it on Soviet television in December 1991. Throughout the Soviet Union, republics – one after another – were declaring independence. Shortly after his speech, the Soviet hammer and sickle flag was lowered from the Kremlin, and in its place the white, blue and red flag of Russia was raised.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and Reagan spent time together at Reagan’s ranch in California in May 1992. Both are no longer in power.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

From left, Bush, Gorbachev and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl attend a ceremony at Prague Castle in 1999. They were among six former world leaders honored with the Order of the White Lion, the Czech Republic’s highest award.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbychev bows his head at Reagan’s funeral in June 2004.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin before a press conference in Germany in December 2004.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

CNN founder Ted Turner and Gorbachev answer questions during a United Nations press conference in 2005. Gorbachev was presenting Turner with the Alan Cranston Peace Prize later that day.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev shakes hands with a member of Green Cross International during a tour of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in 2007. Gorbachev founded Green Cross International, an environmental organization.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shake hands at the UN European Headquarters in 2009. The theme for that day was “Resetting the Agenda for Nuclear Disarmament”.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev appeared on stage during the closing ceremony of the Gorby 80 Gala in London in 2011. The concert celebrated Gorbachev’s 80th birthday.

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