Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the funeral of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the Kremlin announced on Thursday.
The farewell ceremony for Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday (30) at the age of 91, will take place on Saturday (3) in Moscow, at the same place where the body of Soviet dictator Josep Stalin was also laid to rest.
The Russian government also announced that the ceremony will have “characteristics of a state funeral”.treatment given to heads and former heads of state with the presence of the Armed Forces – until Wednesday (31), Moscow was still deciding whether to give this status to the wake of Gorbachev, who had political disagreements with Putin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who announced Putin’s absence, claimed agenda reasons. And he said that on Thursday, Putin took a wreath to the hospital where Gorbachev died and where the body of the former leader of the USSR is.
Mikhail Gorbachev, last leader of the Soviet Union, dies at 91
“Unfortunately, the president’s work schedule will not allow him to pay the tribute on September 3, so he decided to do so today,” Peskov said.
The relationship between Putin and Gorbachev was ambiguous. The former commander of the USSR, recognized in the world for having ended the Cold War and appeased the nuclear threats of the time, was a strong critic of the internal policies of the current Russian president, although he agreed with the annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula, by Putin’s forces in 2014.
On Wednesday, Putin paid his condolences to the family of Gorbachev, whom he called “a statesman who had a great impact on the evolution of world history.” “(Gorbachev) has guided our country through a period of complex and dramatic changes, and major foreign policy, economic and social challenges,” said the Russian president.
Mikhail Gorbachev became known worldwide as the man who ended the Cold War without violence and who led the opening of the then communist USSR to the West. Internally, however, many Russians condemned him for having initiated the bold opening reforms – the so-called Perestroika and Glasnost – that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, starting an economically difficult period for the countries that broke up.
The former leader of the USSR was also responsible for negotiating with the United States to end the competition for nuclear weapons. In 1990, he received the Nobel Peace Prize.