Putin Gorbachev denies holding a state funeral and will stay away

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Sept 1 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will miss the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, denying the man who failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire the full state honor bestowed on Boris Yeltsin.

Gorbachev, idolized in the West for allowing Eastern Europe to escape Soviet communist control but unloved at home for the chaos he unleashed on “perestroika” reforms, will be buried after a public ceremony in Moscow’s Column Hall.

The Great Hall, within sight of the Kremlin, hosted the funerals of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev. Gorbachev will be given a guard of military honor – but his funeral will not be a state.

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On Thursday, state television showed Putin officially laying red roses next to Gorbachev’s coffin – which was left open as is customary in Russia – at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow, where he died on Tuesday at the age of 91.

Putin made a sign of the cross in the Russian Orthodox manner before briefly touching the edge of the coffin.

“Unfortunately, the president’s work schedule will not allow him to do this on September 3, so he decided to do it today,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He said Gorbachev’s ceremonies would include state funeral “elements”, and that the state was helping to organize them.

However, it would be in marked contrast to the funeral of Yeltsin, who was instrumental in marginalizing Gorbachev with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and chose Putin, a career intelligence officer in the KGB, as the man most suitable to succeed him.

When Yeltsin died in 2007, Putin declared a day of national mourning, and, along with world leaders, attended a major state funeral at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

The Russian intervention in Ukraine appears intended to at least partially reverse the collapse of the Soviet Union that Gorbachev failed to prevent in 1991.

Gorbachev’s decision to allow the postwar Soviet Communist bloc countries to go their own way, and to reunify East and West Germany, helped launch nationalist movements within the 15 Soviet republics that he was powerless to suppress.

Five years after taking power in 2000, Putin called the dissolution of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

It took Putin more than 15 hours after Gorbachev’s death to publish a restrictive message of condolence that said Gorbachev had had “a great influence on the course of world history” and “understood deeply that reforms were necessary” to address the problems of the Soviet Union. in the eighties.

The Gorbachev Foundation said the funeral would begin at 12 noon (0900 GMT), not 10 am (0700 GMT), as previously announced.

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Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Kevin Levy and Peter Graf

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Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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