Russians line up to bid farewell to former Soviet leader Gorbachev

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  • The funeral was not planned with state honors or Putin’s presence
  • Gorbachev’s reforms hastened the end of the Soviet Union
  • Ex-leader shocked by Russian actions in Ukraine
  • This content was produced in Russia, where legislation restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Muscovites lined up near the Kremlin on Saturday to pay their respects to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was widely admired in the West for his reforms and lived long enough to see Russia’s leadership backslide. of that change.

Gorbachev, who died Tuesday at the age of 91, will be buried without state honors or a visit from President Vladimir Putin.

However, he was given a public send-off, allowing Russians to view his coffin in the majestic Hall of Columns, within sight of the Kremlin, where previous Soviet leaders were mourned.

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Gorbachev’s wooden coffin, draped in a tricolor Russian flag, was loaded and placed in the center of the hall, where a soft recording of the melancholic music from the movie “Schindler’s List” played in the background.

Putin, a longtime KGB intelligence officer who called the collapse of the Soviet Union a “geopolitical disaster,” was surprised to find that Gorbachev was denied full state honors and not allowed to attend the funeral.

However, Putin paid his respects only to Gorbachev on Thursday, and the Kremlin said the funeral of Gorbachev, who won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize, would be given an “element” of a state event. Cold War.

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Gorbachev became a hero to many in the West for allowing Eastern Europe to shake off more than four decades of Soviet communist control, reunifying East and West Germany, and forging arms control agreements with the United States.

But when 15 Soviet republics seized the same independence to claim their independence, Gorbachev was powerless to prevent the union’s collapse in 1991, six years after becoming its leader.

For that, the economic chaos unleashed by his “perestroika” liberalization program left many Russians unable to forgive him.

Orphan of Hungary to attend

Many Western heads of state and government who normally attend will not attend Saturday because of a rift in relations between Moscow and the West opened by Putin’s move to send troops into Ukraine in February.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a conservative nationalist and one of the few European leaders on good terms with Putin, will attend the funeral, spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote on Twitter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency that Putin had no plans to meet with Orban during his visit to Moscow.

Several Russian officials and cultural figures paid their respects to Gorbachev’s family, including senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachiov and singer Alla Pugacheva, who sat to the left of the open coffin.

Gorbachev’s funeral, a day of national mourning and a state funeral at Moscow’s main cathedral, were held in 2007, when former Russian President Boris Yeltsin played a key role in sidelining Gorbachev as the Soviet Union disintegrated and later elected Putin. as his own successor. read more

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After the ceremony, Gorbachev will be buried alongside Yeltsin at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery alongside his beloved wife, Raisa, who died 23 years earlier.

Putin, who entered the Kremlin in 2000, wasted little time in rolling back the political diversity that had grown out of Gorbachev’s policy of “glasnost,” or openness, and slowly began to rebuild Moscow’s influence over many of its lost republics.

Gorbachev’s longtime translator and aide said this week that Russia’s actions in Ukraine left the former leader “shocked and dismayed” in the final months of his life. read more

“It’s not just the action that started on February 24, but the whole evolution of relations between Russia and Ukraine over the past years was really a big blow to him. It really crushed him emotionally and psychologically,” said Pavel Palashchenko. Reuters said in an interview.

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Reported by Reuters; Written by Kevin Liffey and Gabriel Tetrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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