Photo Gallery Gorbachev's Legacy

Was Mikhail Gorbachev the greatest reformer of the 20th century? Or did he rise to the position of Communist Party leader more or less by accident, only to cause the collapse of the Soviet Union through indecision and fear? Twenty years after perestroika, the politician's legacy is still disputed.
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Was Mikhail Gorbachev the greatest reformer of the 20th century? Or did he rise to the position of Communist Party leader more or less by accident, only to cause the collapse of the Soviet Union through indecision and fear? Twenty years after perestroika, the politician's legacy is still disputed. This photo is from 1988, when Gorbachev was still leader of the Soviet Union.

Foto: Boris Yurchenko/ AP
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Gorbachev congratulates the then-East German leader Erich Honecker with a fraternal hug after Honecker's re-election as general secretary of the Communist Party Congress in East Berlin in this April 21, 1986 file picture.

Foto: STRINGER/RUSSIA/ REUTERS
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Gorbachev meets with US President Ronald Reagan in Geneva in 1985. The two leaders held a series of summits which led to a rapid rapprochement between the US and the Soviet Union.

Foto: Str/ dpa
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The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Here, the toppled statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder and chief of the Soviet secret police, in front of KGB headquarters in Moscow (Aug. 23, 1991 photo).

Foto: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/ AP
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Gorbachev resigned in December 1991. He was succeeded as Russia leader by Boris Yeltsin (seen here in an August 1991 photo).

Foto: PIKO/ AFP
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Gorbachev, his daughter and granddaughter stand next to the coffin of Raisa Gorbachev, who died in September 1999.

Foto: © POOL New / Reuters
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Gorbachev has appeared in a number of publicity and advertising campaigns, including this ad for the luxury goods company Louis Vuitton, which shows him driving past the Berlin Wall.

Foto: AP/ Annie Leibovitz/ Louis Vuitton
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Gorbachev's 80th birthday was celebrated with a lavish gala at London's Royal Albert Hall in March 2011.

Foto: Ian Gavan/ Getty Images
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