Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev poses for a portrait in 2009.
Gorbachev had humble beginnings: he was born on March 2, 1931 in Privolnoy into a peasant family. Here, he is with his parents in Privolnoy.
Gorbachev with his maternal grandparents, Panteli and Vasilisa Kopkalov, circa 1937.
Gorbachev, right, pictured with his classmates, circa 1947.
Gorbachev, wearing a hat, is seen with classmates in the 1940s.
Gorbachev, seen here in 1984, became a member of the Communist Party in 1952 and graduated from Moscow University with a law degree in 1955. By the end of the 1960s, he had risen to the top of the party hierarchy in the Stavropol region.
Gorbachev and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pose for a photo in London in December 1984. Thatcher once called him “a man one could do business with”.
Gorbachev, front center, attends International Women’s Day celebrations in Moscow, March 1985. In 1980 he became a full Politburo member, and in 1985 he rose to the highest position in the party. It made him the leader of the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev follows pallbearers carrying the casket of his predecessor, Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko, in Moscow’s Red Square in March 1985.
Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan held a historic “fireside chat” in Geneva, Switzerland in November 1985. Both held a series of summit talks.
Gorbachev and Reagan attended the closing ceremony of the Geneva Summit in November 1985.
Gorbachev and his wife Raisa were welcomed in Prague, Czechoslovakia in April 1987.
Gorbachev visited Bucharest, Romania in May 1987.
Gorbachev waves during a rally in Moscow in November 1987.
Gorbachev speaks with Reagan at the start of the December 1987 summit in Washington, DC.
Gorbachev and Reagan signed an arms control treaty in December 1987.
In December 1987, Gorbachev shook hands with businessman – and future US President – Donald Trump at the US State Department. It was before a luncheon held in Gorbachev’s honor.
Gorbachev shows Reagan around Red Square during Reagan’s visit to Moscow in May 1988.
Gorbachev, the lower right, and members of the Politburo voted in October 1988 to remove Andrei Gromyko, chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Gorbachev would succeed him in that position.
Gorbachev visits New York in December 1988 with Reagan and US Vice President George HW Bush.
A Moscow woman and her cat watch Gorbachev’s New Year message in December 1988.
Gorbachev and Cuban President Fidel Castro wave during Gorbachev’s visit to Cuba in April 1989.
Gorbachev greets East German leader Erich Honecker after arriving in East Berlin in October 1989.
Gorbachev addressed a group of business executives in San Francisco in 1990.
Coretta Scott King presented Gorbachev with the Albert Einstein Award for Contribution to Peace in June 1990.
Gorbachev gives a speech after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in June 1991. He was awarded “for his instrumental role in the peace process that today characterizes major parts of the international community.”
Gorbachev shook hands with then-President Bush in Moscow in July 1991.
Gorbachev rubs his eyes during a speech in Moscow in August 1991. He threatened to resign if the Soviet Union broke up. That month, Gorbachev was on vacation in Crimea when hardliners in his country staged a revolt. Boris Yeltsin, leader of the largest Soviet republic and a staunch critic of half of Gorbachev’s reforms, came to Gorbachev’s rescue and defeated the plotters.
Gorbachev held a news conference the day after his return from Crimea in August 1991. He was held captive in his dacha by coup plotters who tried to remove him from power in order to stop his economic reform policies. The coup leaders publicly announced that Gorbachev was abdicating due to ill health. Here, Gorbachev had a crumpled note that he hid on his body to explain what really happened if he was killed.
Gorbachev completed his resignation speech in December 1991 after delivering it on Soviet television. Throughout the Soviet Union, republics – one after another – were declaring independence. After his speech, the Soviet hammer and sickle flag was lowered from the Kremlin and the white, blue and red flag of Russia rose in its place.
Gorbachev and Reagan spend time together at Reagan’s ranch in California in May 1992. Both are not in power.
From left, Bush, Gorbachev and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl attend a ceremony at Prague Castle in 1999. They are among six former world leaders to receive the Czech Republic’s highest award, the Order of the White Lion.
Gorbechev bowed at Reagan’s funeral in June 2004.
Gorbachev speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin before a news conference in Germany in December 2004.
CNN founder Ted Turner and Gorbachev answer questions during a 2005 United Nations news conference. Gorbachev presented Turner with the Alan Cranston Peace Prize that day.
Gorbachev shook hands with a member of Green Cross International during a tour of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward in 2007. Gorbachev founded the environmental organization Green Cross International.
Gorbachev and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shake hands at the UN’s European headquarters in 2009. The theme of the day was “Reframing the Nuclear Disarmament Agenda”.
Gorbachev appeared on stage during the finale of the 2011 Gorby 80 Gala in London. The concert celebrated Gorbachev’s 80th birthday.