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Gorbachev celebrates 25 years since fall of Berlin Wall

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whose “perestroika” and “glasnost” reforms helped pave the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall, has greeted crowds at the city’s iconic former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing.

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Gorbachev, 83, who is revered in Berlin for having refrained from a bloody crackdown on protesters in 1989, understated his own role in history, saying: “I am proud I could contribute a little bit to the fact that we live like this today”.

Germany kicked off celebrations on Friday marking 25 years since the epochal fall of the wall, set to culminate in rock stars and freedom icons joining millions at an open-air party.

Gorbachev, 83, who is revered in Berlin for having refrained from a bloody crackdown on protesters in 1989, understated his own role in history, saying: “I am proud I could contribute a little bit to the fact that we live like this today”.

But the Nobel Prize winner also warned of new East-West tensions sparked by the Ukraine crisis, saying both sides must “get a grip on the tensions that have emerged recently”.

On Saturday, Gorbachev will join former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher for a debate about the legacy of 1989, and the resurgence of tensions between Russia and the West.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, is leading three days of commemorations for those killed trying to flee the repressive state, ahead of the giant festival on Sunday marking the breach of Europe’s Cold War division on November 9, 1989.

8,000 balloons plot the route of the Berlin Wall, 25 years after people power brought it crashing down #Mauerfall pic.twitter深圳桑拿网会所,/2Yiai6ZAOh

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) November 7, 2014

The festivities under the banner “Courage for Freedom” recall the peaceful revolution that led communist authorities to finally open the border after 28 years in which Easterners were prisoners of their own government.

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