Russian President Vladimir Putin will miss the funeral of the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachevwho failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire, denying him full state honors, dedicated to Boris Yeltsinreports Reuters.
Gorbachev, idolized in the West for allowing Eastern Europe to escape Soviet communist control but unloved at home for the chaos that “perestroika” unleashed will be buried on Saturday after a public ceremony in Moscow’s Hall of Columns.
The Great Hall, near the Kremlin, is usually where Russians bid farewell to their leaders: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev. Gorbachev will receive a military guard of honor – but his funeral will not be a state one.
State television showed Putin solemnly placing red roses next to Gorbachev’s coffin on Thursday – left open, as is traditional in Russia – at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow, where he died on Tuesday at the age of 91. Putin crossed himself before briefly touching the edge of the coffin.
“Unfortunately, the president’s work schedule will not allow him to do this (pay tribute to Gorbachev) on September 3, so he decided to do it today,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.
He said that Gorbachev’s ceremony will have “elements” of a state funeral and that the state helps organize it.
Nevertheless, the contrast will be marked with the funeral of Yeltsin, who was instrumental in ousting Gorbachev from power and personally hand-picked Putin, a career KGB intelligence officer, as the most suitable man to succeed him.
When Yeltsin died in 2007, Putin declared a day of national mourning and, together with world leaders, attended a spectacular state funeral in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Russia’s intervention in Ukraine appears to be aimed at at least partially reversing the collapse of the Soviet Union that Gorbachev failed to prevent in 1991.
Gorbachev’s decision to let the countries of the post-war Soviet communist bloc go their separate ways and East and West Germany to reunify helped revive nationalist movements in the 15 Soviet republics that he was powerless to suppress.
Five years after taking power in 2000, Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”.
It took Putin more than 15 hours after Gorbachev’s death to issue a low-key condolence message, saying Gorbachev had “a huge influence on the course of world history” and “deeply understood that reforms were needed.” , to deal with the problems of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
The Gorbachev Foundation said that the funeral will start at 12:00 noon (time coincides with Bulgarian time), not at 10:00 a.m. as previously announced.
Radev: Gorbachev’s work deserves recognition, he changed the world
The unification of Europe today is possible thanks to his bold vision, the president said