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Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has died, according to Russian news reports

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It’s been 30 years since the Soviet Union dissolved in the wake of a bungled reform effort by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, elected General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985. The Soviet Union, created by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, consisted of 16 constituent republics, named for their majority nationality (Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian and so on).

MOSCOW (AP) — Mikhail Gorbachev, who as the last leader of the Soviet Union waged a losing battle to salvage a crumbling empire but produced extraordinary reforms that led to the end of the Cold War, has died at 91, Russian media reported Thursday.

News organizations quoted a statement from the Central Clinical Hospital as saying he died after a long illness. No other details were given.

Though in power less than seven years, Gorbachev unleashed a breathtaking series of changes. But they quickly overtook him and resulted in the collapse of the authoritarian Soviet state, the freeing of Eastern European nations from Russian domination and the end of decades of East-West nuclear confrontation.

His decline was humiliating. His power hopelessly sapped by an attempted coup against him in August 1991, he spent his last months in office watching republic after republic declare independence until he resigned on Dec. 25, 1991. The Soviet Union wrote itself into oblivion a day later.

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