The continuing pandemic, along with other diseases and age, continued to take its toll on several stellar figures from various spheres spanning politics to arts to sports.
Some were despised dictators, others were world-famous guitarists Queen Elizabeth II made polite conversation with.
Gorbachev's very public devotion to his family broke the stuffy mold of previous Soviet leaders, just as his openness to political reform did.
Hundreds of mourners lined up to quietly file past Gorbachev's open casket as it was flanked by honour guards under the Russian flag in Moscow's historic Hall of Columns.
In a carefully phrased letter of condolence released Wednesday avoiding explicit praise or criticism, Putin described Gorbachev as a man who left “an enormous impact on the course of world history.”
Gorbachev was overtaken by events and characters within Moscow that created the basis for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kremlin spokesman said that Putin had paid his last respects to Gorbachev at the hospital where he died on Tuesday, aged 91.
Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel peace prize for negotiating a historic nuclear arms pact with the then United States President Ronald Reagan.
In his memoirs, Gorbachev describes himself as something of a maverick as he advanced through the party ranks, sometimes bursting out with criticism of the Soviet system and its leaders.
Though in power less than seven years, Gorbachev unleashed a breathtaking series of changes.