Russia Obit Gorbachev

FILE — U.S. President Ronald Reagan, right, talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during arrival ceremonies at the White House where the superpowers begin their three-day summit talks in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1987. Russian news agencies reported that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev died at 91.

Not many people can say that they changed the course of history. Mikhail Gorbachev, who died last month at age 91, is one of those few people. He had a profound impact on world affairs. It may not have been the impact he intended, but he changed the world for the better.

Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union, presiding from 1985 to 1991. It was a tumultuous time. He oversaw the first free Soviet elections, ordered the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and dealt with damage from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.