New York Daily News: By Joseph Wilkinson – The eighth Soviet General Secretary, Gorbachev is often credited with opening up the cloistered country through his policies of glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”). He ruled the Soviet Union from 1985-1991, when the country dissolved despite his efforts to keep it together.

Gorbachev was a crucial figure in ending the Cold War, and he was controversially awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his work in changing the Soviet Union and opening up relations between the Eastern and Western worlds — not to mention East and West Berlin.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Ronald Reagan at the Geneva conference in November 1985 – AP

Former President Ronald Reagan famously asked Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” and the Berlin Wall indeed fell in November 1989.

By and large, Russians have a less charitable view of Gorbachev. He’s often thought of as the man who sabotaged the empire from the inside and diminished Russia’s position on the global stage.

With News Wire Services

Top Feature Photo: In this Friday, Aug 23, 1991 file photo, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, left, holds stenographic notes given to him by Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin, right, at a special session of the Russian Federation Parliament – Boris Yurchenko/AP