Mikhail Gorbachev: Boris Johnson says Kremlin is ‘intent on undoing the good’ of former Soviet leader

Gorbachev’s passing was mourned in California too. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-American actor and former California governor, described Gorbachev as “one of my heroes”.

“There’s an old saying, ‘Never meet your heroes’. I think that’s some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard,” he said.

“Mikhail Gorbachev was one of my heroes, and it was an honor and a joy to meet him. I was unbelievably lucky to call him a friend.

“All of us can learn from his fantastic life.”

BBC presenter and author John Simpson, who interviewed Gorbachev, described the former Soviet president as “a decent, well-intentioned, principled man”.

He said: “In private he was charming and surprisingly amusing. It wasn’t his fault things went so wrong.”

The death of Gorbachev, who was Soviet leader between 1985 and 1991, was reported by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The news agency said that Gorbachev had died of a “serious and prolonged illness” at the Central Clinic Hospital.

Gorbachev was said to be gravely ill earlier this year with a kidney ailment.

The Russian loved by the West

Loved by the West and despised by hardliners within the Soviet Union’s Communist Party, Gorbachev is credited with helping to end the Cold War and presiding over the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 1990, Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize “for the leading role he played in the radical changes in East-West relations”.

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