BORIS Johnson and Vladimir Putin have paid tribute to the heroic Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who modernised Russia and helped end the Cold War.
Mr Gorbachev tragically died at the age of 91 in his home country last night.
Mikhail Gorbachev, seen here in 1990, has died at the age of 91
Mr Gorbachev shares a laugh with Lady Thatcher in 2005
Mr Gorbachev with then US President Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1987
Putin and Gorbachev pictured together in 2004
He presided over the dissolution of the USSR, which had existed for nearly 70 years.
Paying respect to the last head of the Communist state, Boris Johnson said he is “saddened” to hear that Mr Gorbachev died in a “time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine”.
The PM tweeted: “I always admired the courage and integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion.
“In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all.”
Mad Vlad Putin also expressed his “deepest condolences” at the death of Mr Gorbachev, according to a Kremlin spokesman.
Despite the warm words, many say the former Soviet leader despised Putin for reversing the important freedoms he introduced to Russia.
Under Mr Gorbachev, Western ideals and values such as freedom of speech and media were far more free to flourish.
But Putin has cracked down on these rights over a period spanning decades.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the country has inched closer to life under the Stalinist USSR than ever before.
Mr Gorbachev fell from power after a failed coup in 1991, which led to the end of the Soviet Union.
Widely considered one of the most significant figures of the second half of the 20th century, he received a wide range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize.
But his legacy in Russia is often derided for accelerating the Soviet dissolution, bringing a decline in Russia’s global influence.
Putin views the end of the USSR as a humiliation for Russia and destructive of its former position in the international arena.
Joining the long list of tributes, last night wannabe PM Liz Truss tweeted: “Mikhail Gorbachev was a remarkable statesman who made a profound contribution to global security and stability, working with Western leaders to end the Cold War.
“Now more than ever, this legacy of cooperation and peace must prevail.”
Ms Truss’s rival for the Tory leadership Rishi Sunak said: “Gorbachev’s courage and vision helped bring peace to Europe and built a freer, more open society for millions.
“His legacy will be remembered by us all.”
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