Gorbachev’s funeral without chandeliers, without Putin

“Elements of a national funeral” but an absent Russian president, a public ceremony amid public indifference and hostility. The funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, will take place in Moscow this Saturday, but many contradictions must be accommodated.

The funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, will take place in Moscow on Saturday, with President Vladimir Putin not attending in a sign of his controversial legacy in Russia. A great political figure of the 20th century, Gorbachev died Tuesday evening at the age of 91 after a “long and serious illness,” according to the hospital where he was treated.

He made history by ending the Cold War in 1991 when he defied the disappearance of the Soviet empire and tried to save it with democratic and economic reforms.

Burial with wife

Gorbachev, admired in the West as a man of peace, is seen by many in Russia as the cause of Moscow’s geopolitical downfall and the political, economic and moral crises that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. A sign of this discontent, no national day of mourning was declared, even though there was a “national funeral” at Mikhail Gorbachev’s burial, notably a “guard of honor”, the Kremlin underlined. And amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict, no foreign leader has announced a trip to attend the funeral in Moscow.

The funeral will begin with a farewell ceremony at the House of Trade Unions, a landmark in the Russian capital where the remains of many communist figures such as Joseph Stalin were laid to rest in 1953. The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Morning local time, the Gorbachev Foundation announced that it will open to the public. The former Soviet leader will later be buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery, next to his wife Raisa Gorbatseva, who died in 1999 and was very close to him.

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