World leaders past and present are paying tribute to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who died Tuesday at the age of 91.
“Mikhail Gorbachev was a man of remarkable vision,” President Biden said in a statement. His radical reforms “were the acts of a rare leader – one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also offered his condolences, describing Gorbachev as “a man of peace whose choices opened up a path of liberty for Russians.” And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chimed in, as wellnoting how “in a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, [Gorbachev’s] tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all.”
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, whose family hails from Hiroshima (as noted by The Washington Post), celebrated Gorbachev’s role in “overcoming a post-World War II division in Europe and the East-West confrontation,” while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz remembered him as a “courageous reformer and a statesman who dared to do many things.”
Ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, who grew up in East Germany, hailed the Cold War-ending leader as a “unique world politician” who “fundamentally changed my life.”
But perhaps no reaction was more notable than that of Russian President Vladimir Putinwho, in a brief message addressed to Gorbachev’s “relatives and friends,” described his compatriot as a “politician and statesman who had a huge impact on the course of world history.”