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An image of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at his funeral in Moscow
Gorbachev was in power from 1985 to 1991, and sought to reform and modernize the Soviet UnionImage: Sergei Bobylev/Tass/dpa/picture alliance
PoliticsRussian Federation

Mikhail Gorbachev buried in Moscow

September 3, 2022

Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century, was laid to rest in a relatively low-key ceremony and without the presence of the current Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

https://p.dw.com/p/4GNO0

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was laid to rest on Saturday in a relatively low-key ceremony in the Russian capital.

Thousands of mourners lined up to pay their final respects and to quietly file past his open casket as it was flanked by honor guards under the Russian flag in Moscow's historic Hall of Columns. The hall has traditionally been used for the funerals of high officials, including Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1953. 

No world leaders were expected to attend the funeral amid Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine and the resulting political isolation of Moscow. 

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin was not in attendance, ostensibly due to scheduling issues, although many view this as a snub to the man who brought the Cold War to an end but failed to prevent the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

What is Gorbachev's legacy in Germany?

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his two potential successors Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are banned from entering Russia. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he had not received an invitation, and his predecessor, Angela Merkel, has declined due to a knee injury. 

But Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban traveled to Moscow for the funeral. The Kremlin, however, said there were no plans for a meeting between Orban and Putin. "As far as we know, he will only fly in to say goodbye to Gorbachev. There were no desires for meetings," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state news agency RIA Novosti.

Ambassadors from countries like France and the US were also present at the ceremony. Germany's ambassador, Géza Andreas von Geyr, has tested positive for COVID-19 and was represented by his deputy. 

'Elements' of state funeral

The Kremlin said the ceremony would only have "elements" of a state funeral such as an honor guard.

There will be no customary national day of mourning, as is typical for former Soviet and Russian leaders. 

Gorbachev was buried at Moscow's prestigious Novodevichy Cemetery next to his wife Raisa, who died of cancer in 1999.

The ceremony was a much more low-key affair than that accorded to Boris Yeltsin, who became the first president of modern Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. When Yeltsin died in 2007, he was honored with a state funeral.

Great political figure of the 20th century

Gorbachev, one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century, died Tuesday at the age of 91 after a "serious and long illness," said the hospital where he had been treated.

Gorbachev was in power from 1985 to 1991, and sought to reform and modernize the Soviet Union. But many in Russia blame him for triggering the demise of the union and damaging the country's position on the international stage. Putin has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.

The last Soviet leader, however, enjoyed popularity in the West as the man who ended the Cold War and lifted the Iron Curtain. He is remembered for allowing countries in Eastern Europe to free themselves from Soviet rule and for signing a landmark nuclear arms reduction pact with the United States.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

tg/sri (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)

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