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Cuba in national mourning for former leader Fidel Castro

Cuba is observing nine days of national mourning for former President Fidel Castro, who has died at the age of 90.

The socialist revolutionary's death was announced by his brother, Raul Castro, the incumbent Cuban president, on state television late on Friday.

In his address the elderly leader said Mr Castro, who ruled Cuba since 1959 and survived countless assassination attempts, died at 10.29pm on Friday.

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Mikhail Gorbachev lauds achievements of Fidel Castro

Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Cuban President Fidel Castro exchange treaties of friendship in 1989. Credit: Reuters

Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union, has lauded the achievements of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose death was announced overnight.

The Soviet Union was Cuba's greatest ally for many years, acting as an economic and political prop for the country. Its collapse in 1991 had a devastating effect on the Cuban economy.

"Fidel held his ground and strengthened his country at the time of the harshest American blockade, at the time of massive pressure on him," said Gorbachev.

"Nevertheless he led out his country from the blockade to the path of self-sustained and independent development."

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