Putin has denied Gorbachev’s funeral and will stay away

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Sept 1 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will miss the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, who failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Gorbachev, idolized in the West for allowing Eastern Europe to escape Soviet communist control but unpopular at home for the chaos his “perestroika” reforms unleashed, will be laid to rest after a public ceremony at Moscow’s Hall of Columns on Saturday.

The Great Hall overlooking the Kremlin hosted the funerals of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev. Gorbachev will be accorded military honors – but his funeral will not be state-run.

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On Thursday, state television showed Putin placing red roses next to Gorbachev’s coffin at Moscow’s Central Medical Hospital – traditionally kept open in Russia.

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

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

He said Gorbachev’s ceremony would have “elements” of a state funeral and that the state would help organize it.

Still, it would be a marked contrast to the funeral of Yeltsin, who played a key role in sidelining Gorbachev when the Soviet Union collapsed and chose Putin, a KGB intelligence officer, as the most suitable person to succeed him.

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

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine was aimed at partially reversing the collapse of the Soviet Union that Gorbachev had failed to prevent in 1991.

Gorbachev’s decision to allow the countries of the post-war Soviet Communist Alliance to go their own way and the reunification of East and West Germany helped fuel nationalist movements within the 15 Soviet republics.

Five years after coming to power in 2000, Putin called the breakup of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”

Putin delivered an obituary more than 15 hours after Gorbachev’s death, saying that Gorbachev “had a great influence on the course of world history” and that he “deeply understood that reforms were necessary” to overcome the Soviet Union’s problems. In the 1980s.

Gorbachev’s foundation said the funeral would begin at 12 a.m. (0900 GMT), starting at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT), as previously announced.

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Reported by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Peter Graf

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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