Raisa Gorbachev, Wife of Mikhail Gorbachev, Dies of Leukemia

September 21, 1999 - 0:0
MOSCOW Raisa Gorbachev, the spirited and outspoken wife of the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, died Monday in a German hospital after a battle with leukemia. She was 67. Mrs. Gorbachev, widely admired in the West and long resented at home, died of circulatory and inner organ failure at university hospital in Muenster, said hospital spokeswoman Jutta Reising. Hospitalized since July 25, Mrs. Gorbachev underwent chemotherapy for her leukemia and initially showed some improvement, but her condition deteriorated in recent days.

Her husband, the Soviet leader from 1985 until its collapse in 1991, was at his wife's side throughout her illness. In an ironic twist, the couple that had been so intensely despised in Russia suddenly received a flood of support and sympathy after Mrs. Gorbachev fell ill. News of the illness prompted thousands of Russians to send letters, flowers and money to the Gorbachev Foundation in the Russian capital.

Some suggested special diets. Others called to say they were praying for Mrs. Gorbachev's recovery. A few offered blood and bone marrow transplants. Herbal medicines arrived from Siberia. One woman offered to go to Germany to cook for Gorbachev, saying he must be tired of German cuisine. (AP)