Raisa Gorbachev, wife of last Soviet leader, dies of leukemia
September 20, 1999
Mrs. Gorbachev died in a hospital in Muenster, Germany where she was admitted in intensive care September 14. She had undergone chemotherapy in Germany for several weeks, and had been scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant.
Gorbachev, who served as Soviet leader from 1985-91, stayed in Muenster to be near his wife throughout her illness.
The daughter of a Siberian railway worker, her visibility shocked a country long used to keeping Politburo wives under wraps.
Raisa Maximovna Titorenko met her future husband at a ballroom dancing class in college. As he climbed the Communist hierarchy in the Russian provinces, Raisa earned a doctorate in sociology, taught school and had a daughter.
Her style and her active public partnership with her husband were a source of inspiration to a younger generation, but bothered others.
After being held captive during 1991's failed coup attempt, she suffered what has been described as either a stroke or a nervous breakdown. She kept out of the spotlight after that, until returning to be by her husband's side, during his disastrous run for Russia's presidency in 1996.
Correspondent Steve Harrigan contributed to this report.
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