Democracy Now! look at the life and legacy of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday at the age of 91. Gorbachev led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its dissolution in 1991 and has been credited internationally with bringing down the Iron Curtain, helping to end the Cold War and reducing the risk of nuclear war. Inside Russia, many say his policies led to the breakup of the Soviet Union and the collapse in the standard of living for millions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century. Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation and a friend to Gorbachev, remembers him as a "believer in independent journalism" and credits him with introducing the "fairest and freest presidential and parliamentary elections to Russia." Joining us from Moscow, Nina Khrushcheva, great-granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, says she knew Gorbachev as "an absolute democrat in comparison to anybody who came before him, including Nikita Khrushchev," and his policies allowed her the freedom to pursue her academic career in the U.S. as a Russian expat.
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