Mikhail Gorbachev, last Soviet leader, dies at 91

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Mikhail Gorbachev, last Soviet leader, dies at 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet Union leader, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 91 after suffering from a long and protracted illness. He will be buried at Novodevichy Cemetry in Moscow next to his wife Raisa, who died in 1999. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences at the passing of the last head of the USSR. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokeswoman, said he Putin is going to send a telegram of condolences to his family and friends. Here is everything you need to know about the Soviet Union's last leader.

He became the General Secretary of the Communist Party at the age of 54 in March 1985.

Soon after that he started a perestroika change or reform and glasnost openness to bring the USSR out of political and economic stagnation.

He also introduced measures to curb excessive drinking among Russians. As part of these measures, Gorbachev ordered the destruction of vineyards in the country and announced a limit on the number of hours alcohol would be available.

There were doubts about the glasnost policy after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in April 1986.

Gorbachev resisted using brute force when pro-democracy protests erupted in Soviet bloc nations in eastern Europe in 1989.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for the role he played in ending the Cold War between the East and West without bloodshed.

Gorbachev didn't anticipate the strong nationalistic sentiment in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which have spread to regions like Ukraine and Georgia. This nationalistic sentiment eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

He won a Grammy in 2004 with the former US President Bill Clinton and Italian actress Sophia Loren for recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.

Years after his stint as the USSR president, Gorbachev starred in a 1998 Pizza Hut commercial and a 2007 Louis Vuitton campaign.

The last Soviet leader was born in Privolnoye in southern Russia on March 2, 1931. His grandfathers and father were peasant and members of the Communist Party.