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Poland's last communist ruler Jaruzelski dies

  • FILE - This is a Friday Sept. 18, 2009 file photo of Poland's last communist leader, Wojciech Jaruzelski, as he attends a symposium entitled "Poland, Coming out of Communism 20 years after" in Paris . (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

WARSAW: General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's last communist leader who oversaw his country's turbulent transition to democracy in 1989, died on Sunday after a long illness, Polish state news agency PAP said.

Jaruzelski, born on July 6, 1923, a stern enigmatic figure in his trademark thick dark glasses, is best known for declaring martial law in 1981 to save Poland's deeply unpopular communist rulers and suppress the pro-democracy Solidarity movement.

But as Polish president in 1989 he convened talks with Solidarity leaders that paved the way for the first partially free elections in the Soviet bloc since World War Two. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa replaced him as president in 1990.

 
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