Johannesburg - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Friday hailed the late Nelson Mandela as “great man” whose life was an “example” to state leaders.
“His whole life is an example for those who think about their country, the people,” said the 82-year-old former leader of the Soviet Union.
“A great man has departed, one respected by me and others for his dedication to freedom and revolution, which is necessary for that freedom,” Gorbachev told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
He called Mandela a “friend” who supported perestroika, the policy of radical reforms Gorbachev had pushed in the late 1980s just before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Soviet authorities supported the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, leading to South Africa cutting off diplomatic ties with the country in 1956. Embassies in the two countries were not reestablished until 1992.
“Mandela can be thanked for everything he has done. Without doubt, his triumph will remain in our memory,” said Gorbachev. - Sapa-AFP