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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Raisa Gorbachev Struck by Leukemia




BONN, Germany -- Raisa Gorbachev, who brought a breath of glamour to the Kremlin as Soviet first lady, is seriously ill with leukemia and is "very weakened" by the disease and chemotherapy, doctors said Wednesday.


Her husband, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, was at her side at the German clinic where she has been receiving treatment for an acute form of the blood cancer for 10 days, an official said.


The 67-year-old former first lady, who stood out as by far the most glamorous of all Kremlin wives when her husband became Communist Party leader in 1985, was undergoing chemotherapy at the University Hospital in M?nster, northwestern Germany.


"Examinations have shown that Mrs. Gorbachev has acute leukemia," the hospital said in a statement. "Mrs. Gorbachev is very weakened by her illness and by the necessary medication."


Doctors did not say how long she was likely to stay and declined to say what form of leukemia she had. Various forms of acute leukemia are increasingly curable with new treatments.


Gorbachev's spokesman said Tuesday that the disease was serious but that there were hopes she would pull through.


Raisa Gorbachev won admiration abroad alongside her modernizing husband during the years of glasnost and perestroika reforms.


But her taste for fine couture earned her less affection among the hard-pressed Soviet public, and she shared the unpopularity that beset her husband as the Soviet Union broke up and the economy broke down.


Raisa Gorbachev was born in Siberia and met her husband while studying at Moscow University. They married in 1956.


The couple, who have a daughter and grandchildren, have spent considerable periods abroad since Gorbachev was ousted from the Kremlin in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed.


Gorbachev, 68, won less than 1 percent of the vote when he tried to make a comeback in the presidential election in 1996. But he is indemand on the Western lecture circuit, where he is widely respected as the man who ended the Cold War.


His spokesman denied a Moscow newspaper report Wednesday that, having lost money in last year's financial crash, Gorbachev was unable to pay for his wife's treatment.