Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend Saturday’s funeral of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced today. He said goodbye to the ex-president already this morning at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow, where Gorbachev died on Tuesday after a severe and long illness. The first and at the same time the last president of the Soviet Union will not even have a full state funeral.
“We know that the main ceremony will take place on September 3, as well as the funeral, but the president’s schedule will not allow him to be there,” Peskov told reporters, according to AFP. However, the Russian president today “laid flowers by (Gorbachev’s) coffin” in the hospital, he added. Meanwhile, Russian media broadcast footage of the president laying red roses at Gorbachev’s coffin – which remained open in accordance with Russian tradition – at the hospital. The current head of the Kremlin stood by the coffin for a moment, bowed his head, touched the edge of the coffin, crossed himself and left.
Asked whether Gorbachev would have a state funeral, Putin’s spokesman said the ceremony would include “elements” of a state funeral, such as an honor guard and other similar formalities. According to Peskov, the state is also helping with the organization of the funeral ceremony.
Putin thus denied Gorbachev the full state honors that his successor Boris Yeltsin received after his death, Reuters noted. According to her, Saturday’s farewell to the former president of the USSR will be in strong contrast to the funeral of Yeltsin, who chose Vladimir Putin as his successor. After Yeltsin’s death in 2007, Putin declared a day of state mourning and, together with world leaders, attended a spectacular state funeral in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior, writes Reuters.
Gorbachev, the first and last president of the Soviet Union, died on Tuesday at the age of 91. According to Gorbachev’s daughter Irina, the final farewell will take place on Saturday in the Column Hall of the House of Trade Unions. Subsequently, the ex-president will be buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery, where he has a reserved grave next to his late wife Raisa.
The subtle tributes now being paid to Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia illustrate his low popularity in the country, AFP reported. Despite his significant reforms in the area of freedom of speech, many Russians hold him responsible for the collapse of the great power and the subsequent years of economic, social and moral crisis. In the West, on the other hand, Gorbachev is revered by many for enabling a number of countries to break free from the control of the USSR.
The German agency DPA has already noted that due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the related sanctions, there are questions about the participation of foreign guests in the funeral ceremony. In response to Western sanctions, Russia has banned many high-ranking politicians from the European Union, the United States and other Western countries from entering the country.
In Berlin, however, flags will be lowered to half-mast on Saturday, the representatives of the German capital announced today, according to the AFP agency. Gorbachev played a decisive role in the process that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the reunification of Germany in 1990.
Russia president history reveres Gorbachev