The death of Mikhail Gorbachev marks the end of an era and comes at a time of renewed tensions between East and West.
When it rose to power in the then Soviet Union, the superpower was at odds with the West and branded by US President Ronald Reagan as an evil empire.
However, the high-profile Mr. Gorbachev surprised many with his smile and willingness to reform communism, with his buzzwords “glasnost” (opening) and “perestroika” (restructuring).
Mr Gorbachev had raised his eyebrows before taking the top job in Moscow when he visited the West and met fierce anti-Communist Margaret Thatcher.
The British Prime Minister surprised many by establishing a solid relationship with the man from the East and saying after meeting him that, despite their political differences, he was a man she could do business with .
He also built a strong relationship with Mr. Reagan that toned down his rhetoric as the relationship blossomed.
Celebrated in the West, not everyone in the USSR supported the reformist agenda and measures like the vodka crackdown endeared him while his wife Raisa’s penchant for wearing smart clothes annoyed some some in the less ostentatious Communist era.
The Chernobyl disaster happened on his watch, but his drive for reform, including accepting Mr. Reagan’s demand to “tear down the wall” in Berlin, endeared him to many.
A failed coup exposed his vulnerability, but when he returned to Moscow he had already been replaced in the popularity stakes by Boris Yeltsin who rallied opposition to the plotters while Mr Gorbachev was isolated in Crimea.
The USSR split into 15 nations at the end of Mr. Gorbachev’s term, and the red flag with the hammer and sickle was lowered for the last time in the Kremlin to be replaced by the banner of the Russian Federation .