Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has died at the age of 91, according to Russian news agencies citing hospital officials.
The former Soviet president forged arms-reduction deals with the United States and partnerships with Western powers to remove the Iron Curtain – which had divided Europe since the Second World War – and to bring about the reunification of Germany. He ended the Cold War without bloodshed, but failed to prevent the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
As news of Gorbachev’s death spread, world leaders and politicians posted tributes to his legacy on social media.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that Gorbachev had a “consequential impact” on the world.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that Gorbachev “changed the world for the better.”
Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, tweeted that Gorbachev “opened the way for a free Europe.”
António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said Gorbachev was a “one of a kind statesman” on Twitter.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet that Gorbachev’s “tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all.” Liz Truss, a top contender to succeed Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, called for his “legacy of cooperation and peace” to prevail.
The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Keir Starmer, called Gorbachev “one of the great figures of the 20th Century.”
Leaders from the U.S. acknowledged his death as well. Former secretary of state and current director of the Hoover Institution Condoleezza Rice described Gorbachev as “a man who tried to deliver a better life for his people.”
On Facebook, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute wrote about Gorbachev’s journey from political adversary to friend of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan.
Actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeted that Gorbachev “will be remembered for all time as a hero who dismantled the communist system despite what it meant for his own power.”
Imagine rising to the very top of any organization, and then having the wisdom AND the courage to look around and say, “This doesn’t work for the people, someone has to fix it. If not me, who? If not now, when?”
After the news of his death, social media users also shared a 1997 Pizza Hut commercial, which featured Gorbachev. In the commercial, two Pizza Hut diners argue over the leader’s legacy, until a third diner settles the debate, saying “Because of him we have many things … like Pizza Hut.”
With files from Reuters
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.