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Russians say farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Saturday, September 3, 2022
  • 107 Impressed

Russians say farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev

 

Dhaka September 03 2022 (SCMP) :

 

Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday aged 91, was granted a public send-off but not a funeral with state honours or President Putin in attendance pepole were able to view his coffin in the Hall of Columns, near the Kremlin in Moscow, where previous Soviet leaders have been mourned Muscovites lined up near the Kremlin on Saturday to pay their respects to Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who was widely admired in the West for his reforms and who lived long enough to see Russia’s leadership roll back much of that change.

Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday aged 91, was set to be buried without state honours or President Vladimir Putin in attendance.

He was, however, granted a public send-off, with authorities allowing Russians to view his coffin in the imposing Hall of Columns, within sight of the Kremlin, where previous Soviet leaders have been mourned.

Pallbearers hoisted Gorbachev’s wooden coffin, covered in a tricolour Russian flag, and placed it in the centre of hall, where a soft recording of melancholic music from the film “Schindler’s List” played in the background.

It was little surprise that Putin, a long-time KGB intelligence officer who has called the Soviet Union’s collapse a “geopolitical catastrophe”, denied Gorbachev full state honours and said his schedule did not allow him to attend the funeral.

Putin, however, paid his respects to Gorbachev alone on Thursday and the Kremlin said its guard of honour would provide an “element” of a state occasion at the funeral for Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War.

Guards stand by the open coffin of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, during a memorial service in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Guards stand by the open coffin of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, during a memorial service in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

Muscovites lined up near the Kremlin on Saturday to pay their respects to Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who was widely admired in the West for his reforms and who lived long enough to see Russia’s leadership roll back much of that change.

Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday aged 91, was set to be buried without state honours or President Vladimir Putin in attendance.

He was, however, granted a public send-off, with authorities allowing Russians to view his coffin in the imposing Hall of Columns, within sight of the Kremlin, where previous Soviet leaders have been mourned.

Pallbearers hoisted Gorbachev’s wooden coffin, covered in a tricolour Russian flag, and placed it in the centre of hall, where a soft recording of melancholic music from the film “Schindler’s List” played in the background.

Putin, however, paid his respects to Gorbachev alone on Thursday and the Kremlin said its guard of honour would provide an “element” of a state occasion at the funeral for Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War.

People stand in line to attend a farewell ceremony for the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday aged 91. Photo: AFP
People stand in line to attend a farewell ceremony for the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday aged 91. Photo: AFP

Gorbachev became a hero to many in the West for allowing eastern Europe to shake off more than four decades of Soviet communist control, letting East and West Germany reunite, and forging arms control treaties with the United States.

But when the 15 Soviet republics seized on the same freedoms to demand their independence, Gorbachev was powerless to prevent the collapse of the Union in 1991, six years after he had become its leader.

For that, and the economic chaos that his “perestroika” liberalisation programme unleashed, many Russians could not forgive him.

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