Russians react to Gorbachev's death

Russian media outlets have reported the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, as breaking news.

A Russian state-run television broadcast a special program looking back on his political career and his activities after retirement.

The report said Gorbachev had always loved the country. It praised him for opening up a free world and releasing the people from not only communism's restricted way of thinking but also post-communist illusions. But the broadcaster also said what he did entailed pain.

The state-run Tass news agency quoted presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying President Vladimir Putin expressed his deepest condolences and would send condolence telegrams to Gorbachev's relatives and friends on Wednesday morning.

Tass also reports that Gorbachev will be buried next to his wife, Raisa, at a cemetery in Moscow.

Grigory Yavlinsky, a Russian opposition party politician and pro-democracy leader spoke to NHK and praised Gorbachev's contributions to ending the Cold War.

He said that Gorbachev made the threat of wars a thing of the past, gave people freedom and allowed them to live without fear.

He said Gorbachev made a decision to create a society where people can speak their minds by pushing ahead with democratization and creating freedom of speech in Russian society.

Yavlinsky lost to Putin in the 2000 presidential election. He noted that Russia has returned to an autocratic and authoritarian system, and criticized Putin for letting Gorbachev's contributions going to waste.

He also condemned Putin's administration for the invasion of Ukraine. He said Russia and Ukraine must strike a truce deal and end their fighting to prevent an increase in civilian victims.