The office of Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this week that the president will not be able to attend the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday (3). According to aides, the Russian leader has official commitments at the time of the ceremony, but a long history among politicians may be the main reason for his absence.
Gorbachev was the last president of the Soviet Union and led, among other revolutions in the socialist republic, treaties for economic reopening and the end of the Cold War with the United States. The more purist political lineage, including Putin, however, has always been critical of the way the USSR was dissolved.
The Russian president has already mentioned on different occasions that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. After the death of the former socialist leader, Putin limited himself to offering brief praise.
“Mikhail Gorbachev is a politician and statesman who has had a great impact on the evolution of world history,” Putin said. “He deeply understood that reforms were necessary, he strove to offer his own solutions to our pressing problems.”
On the other hand, Gorbachev showed support on many occasions for the Russian leader. The last Soviet president said in the early 2000s that Putin had a good profile to take over the country, comments that were repeated in 2018: “Today [Putin] he is a leader who deservedly enjoys the support of the people”.
The irony in the relationship between the two is that Gorbachev ended up supporting a man who never revered him, nor did he live up to the Soviet leader’s more progressive and open-to-the-world legacy.