Mikhail Gorbachev, who has died at the age of 91, was the last leader of the Soviet Union and one of the most important world figures of the last quarter of the 20th century. Almost singlehandedly he brought an end to 40 years of east-west confrontation with the removal of the iron curtain and liberated the world from the danger of nuclear conflagration.

While he was celebrated in the west, many Russians never forgave Gorbachev for the turbulence that his policies unleashed, believing it was too high a price to pay for democracy

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