Wojciech Jaruzelski | Polish general, 90
Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, 90, the communist leader who imposed harsh military rule on Poland in 1981 in an attempt to crush the pro-democracy Solidarity movement but years later allowed reforms that ended up dismantling the regime, has died.
Gen. Jaruzelski, who suffered in recent years from cancer, heart problems, and pneumonia, died Sunday in a Warsaw hospital after suffering a stroke earlier this month, hospital spokesman Grzegorz Kade told the Associated Press.
The retired general remained a controversial figure in his homeland until the end of his life for his defining act: the imposition of martial law that began at dawn Dec. 13, 1981.
The suppression of the democracy movement resulted in the mass imprisonment of thousands of dissidents and the deaths of dozens and brought economic stagnation that contributed to the system's eventual undoing. It also pushed many Poles to flee the country and seek exile in the West.