A report claiming that former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev died in Moscow is a hoax and should not be taken seriously.
The report of Mikhail Gorbachev's death went viral after a Facebook page announced his sudden demise: "At about 11 a.m. ET on Sunday (April 12, 2015), our beloved politician Mikhail Gorbachev passed away. Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931 in Stavropol. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page."
The fake RIP Mikhail Gorbachev page got over a million likes, before it was taken down.
The rumour was finally dispelled after Gorbachev's spokesperson told Media Mass website in Moscow that "he's still alive and well", adding that he had "joined the long list of celebrities who have been victimised by this hoax."
On Twitter, the death hoax gained quite some attention after a fake account purporting to belong to the Norwegian defence minister claimed: "Former Soviet President Gorbachev has died suddenly in Moscow, as Russia Defence Ministry confirms."
Many fell for the fake death report and failed to notice that the Twitter account was set up 15 minutes before posting the report.
The final clarification came from Vladimir Polyakov of the Gorbachev Foundation, who told the BBC's Sarah Rainsford: "I just left his office."
This is, however, not the first time that Gorbachev became the victim of an elaborate death hoax.
In 2013, the state-run news agency RIA Novosti in Moscow announced the death of Gorbachev on its German language micro-blog and on one of its Twitter accounts. An embarassed RIA Novosti later revealed that it was the work of hackers.
Twitter Reactions on Mikhail Gorbachev Death Hoax
Mmanaledi Mataboge @MmanalediM
Reports saying former Soviet Union/Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev has died.
Rob Maclean @rob_2712
Apparently Mikhail Gorbachev is dead, wonder what he did to upset Vladimir
Richard Giragosian @Richard_RSC
reports from Moscow of Gorbachev Dismissed Since Politician Is 'Alive And Well'
Dylan H Morris. @dylanhm
Well then... rest in peace, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Jimmy Maish @kammalley
Former Russia President Mikhail Gorbachev is dead.
Gorbachev was the first president of the Soviet Union since 1990.
Andrew Mackie @AndrewDMackie
Former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev has died. He will certainly be remembered as the man who led to fall of communist Russia.
I know Mikhail Gorbachev isn't dead
@michaellegge He was the best Angus Deyton impersonator I had ever seen. #RIPMikhailGorbachev