Russian President Vladimir Putin will neither attend the funeral of the late Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, nor give him the honor of a state-sponsored funeral, according to Reuters.
A military honor guard would be present at the funeral, and there will be some of the “elements” of a state funeral, a Kremlin spokesperson said, according to Reuters. The Kremlin cited scheduling conflicts as the reason why Putin will be unable to attend the public funeral, which will take place in Moscow’s Hall of Columns, a landmark visible from the Kremlin, according to Reuters.
“There is no doubt that this is intended by Putin as a snub to Gorbachev and to his legacy. What kind of work commitment could prevent him from attending an event as rich in symbolism as this?” Peter Conradi, author of “Who Lost Russia?” for which he interviewed Gorbachev, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It was never a secret, however, that Putin held Gorbachev in low esteem and blamed his predecessor for errors that led the Soviet Union to fall apart in 1991 — an event [Putin] has described as the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the (20th) century.’” (RELATED: Former Soviet Union Leader Mikhail Gorbachev Dead At 91)
The Kremlin’s English-language website has little regarding the former president’s death, with two short posts, one noting that Putin had paid “his last respects,” and one excerpt from a letter the Kremlin describes as expressing condolences to Gorbachev’s family. The English-language excerpt does not actually contain any condolences.
Vladimir Putin will not be attending Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral, allegedly because of his busy schedule. This is undoubtedly a snub of the man Putin considers weak for having allowed the USSR to be carved up by the likes of Yeltsin and taken advantage of by the West.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) September 1, 2022
Putin’s treatment of Gorbachev is in stark contrast to the arrangements made for former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who hand-picked Putin to be his successor when the latter was a relatively unknown KGB agent, according to CNN. Putin arranged a special commission to plan a state funeral, ordered flags to fly at half staff and declared a national day of mourning following his predecessor’s death in 2007.
The overwhelming majority of Russian and Soviet Union leaders were granted state funerals, with the last leader to not receive the honor being Nikita Khrushchev, who was deposed in 1964 and died in 1971 in seclusion, according to CNN. Gorbachev will be buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery next to his wife, Raisa, who passed away in 1999, alongside a variety of famous Russians, including Yeltsin.
Gorbachev founded the Gorbachev Foundation, under the auspices of which he he frequently criticized Putin’s regime and promoted democracy and free speech across the world, according to CNN. The foundation said “there is nothing more precious in the world than human lives” in a call for peace negotiations in Ukraine, CNN reported.
When Conradi interviewed Gorbachev for his book, he was careful to stay “on the right side of Putin” while urging him to reflect on his choices, Conradi told the DCNF.
Gorbachev was well-respected in the West for relinquishing control of Eastern Europe and reforming Russia, but those same reforms tarnished his image at home due to their chaotic effects, according to Reuters. Despite this, Western dignitaries will likely not attend the funeral due to ongoing travel sanctions Russia has placed on Western officials in response to sanctions Western nations placed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported.
The Russian Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the DCNF.
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