Russians say farewell to USSR’s last leader Mikhail Gorbachev in funeral snubbed by Putin

Arina Fedorova
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Moscow jasaseosmm  — 

Russians said farewell to the last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday in a funeral that has been snubbed by President Vladimir Putin.

A public farewell ceremony for Gorbachev, who died this week at the age of 91, came to a close despite people still waiting outside their turn to pay their respects. It lasted around three-and-a-half hours.

The ceremony took place in Moscow’s Hall of Columns, a storied venue that has hosted the state funerals of former Soviet leaders like Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin. Gorbachev was buried next to his wife Raisa later in the day at Novodevichy Cemetery.

While lionized in the West for ending the Cold War, Gorbachev is seen as a pariah at home for the chaos caused by his economic reforms – creating the circumstances that made a strongman like Putin attractive to many Russians.

Putin blamed Gorbachev for the demise of the USSR, which he called the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, and has set about restoring Russia’s wounded prestige.

Putin missed Saturday’s funeral due to his work schedule, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The Russian leader did, however, pay his respects to Gorbachev on Thursday. Footage showed Putin laying a bouquet of roses by the open coffin in Central Clinical Hospital, Putin then bowed and made the sign of the cross.

Hundreds of people lined up Saturday outside the Hall of Columns for a final look at Gorbachev, whose body lay in open casket flanked by two soldiers in the ornate, chandelier-adorned room. Members of Gorbachev’s family, including his daughter Irina Virganskaya and his two granddaughters, sat off to the side.

Many of the ordinary Russians who came to pay their respects laid roses and bouquets or took photographs. One Russian citizen who came wanted to thank Gorbachev for bringing democracy to Russia and opening it to the world.

Another woman told Reuters that the former Soviet leader “deserved” a proper farewell.

“I think he did more good things than bad. The older generation that are here, they remember him and they came to say goodbye. That’s what it is,” she said.

People stand in line to attend a farewell ceremony for Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday.

The Kremlin stopped short of classifying Saturday’s events as a state funeral for Gorbachev, with its spokesperson saying it would have “elements of a state funeral,” including a guard of honor and the state assisting in the organization. No explanation was provided on how the event differed from previous state funerals.

Gorbachev grew more critical of Putin and his increasingly restrictive regime in recent years, traveling the world promoting free speech and democracy as part of his foundation. While Gorbachev himself did not comment on Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, his foundation called for peace negotiations, saying “there is nothing more precious in the world than human lives.”

The coffin containing the body of Mikhail Gorbachev is carried in for a farewell ceremony in Moscow's Hall of Columns on Saturday.

The last Russian leader not to be granted a state funeral was Nikita Khrushchev, who was deposed for attempting to roll back Stalinist reforms. He died after living in seclusion in 1971 and his funeral was held in semi-secrecy.

Saturday’s funeral was a marked contrast to the death of Russia’s first democratically elected president Boris Yeltsin – who had handpicked Putin to be his successor.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev poses for a portrait in 2009.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Stephen Voss/Redux

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev poses for a portrait in 2009.

Gorbachev had humble beginnings: He was born into a peasant family in Privolnoye on March 2, 1931. Here, he's with his parents in Privolnoye.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Laski Diffusion/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev had humble beginnings: He was born into a peasant family in Privolnoye on March 2, 1931. Here, he’s with his parents in Privolnoye.

Gorbachev with his maternal grandparents, Panteley and Vasilisa Gopkalo, circa 1937.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Apic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev with his maternal grandparents, Panteley and Vasilisa Gopkalo, circa 1937.

Gorbachev, far right, poses for a photo with his classmates, circa 1947.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Laski Diffusion/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev, far right, poses for a photo with his classmates, circa 1947.

Gorbachev, wearing the hat, is seen with classmates in the 1940s.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Laski Diffusion/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev, wearing the hat, is seen with classmates in the 1940s.

Gorbachev, seen here in 1984, became a member of the Communist Party in 1952 and completed a law degree at Moscow University in 1955. By the end of the 1960s, he had risen to the top of the party hierarchy in the Stavropol region.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Georges De Keerle/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev, seen here in 1984, became a member of the Communist Party in 1952 and completed a law degree at Moscow University in 1955. By the end of the 1960s, he had risen to the top of the party hierarchy in the Stavropol region.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Gerald Penny/AP

Gorbachev and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pose for a picture in London as they meet in December 1984. Thatcher once called him “a man one can do business with.”

Gorbachev, front center, attends an International Women's Day Gala in Moscow in March 1985. He became a full Politburo member in 1980, and he rose to the top party spot in 1985. That effectively made him the leader of the Soviet Union.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Boris Yurchenko/AP

Gorbachev, front center, attends an International Women’s Day Gala in Moscow in March 1985. He became a full Politburo member in 1980, and he rose to the top party spot in 1985. That effectively made him the leader of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev follows pallbearers carrying the casket of his predecessor as Soviet leader, Konstantin Chernenko, in Moscow's Red Square in March 1985.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Boris Yurchenko/AP

Gorbachev follows pallbearers carrying the casket of his predecessor as Soviet leader, Konstantin Chernenko, in Moscow’s Red Square in March 1985.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan hold a historic “fireside chat” in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 1985. The two had a series of summit talks.

Gorbachev and Reagan attend the closing ceremony for the Geneva Summit in November 1985.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev and Reagan attend the closing ceremony for the Geneva Summit in November 1985.

Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, are welcomed in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in April 1987.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Patrick Aventurier/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, are welcomed in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in April 1987.

Gorbachev visits Bucharest, Romania, in May 1987.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

AP

Gorbachev visits Bucharest, Romania, in May 1987.

Gorbachev waves during a parade in Moscow in November 1987.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Boris Yurchenko/AP

Gorbachev waves during a parade in Moscow in November 1987.

Gorbachev talks with Reagan at the beginning of a summit in Washington, DC, in December 1987.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Boris Yurchenko/AP

Gorbachev talks with Reagan at the beginning of a summit in Washington, DC, in December 1987.

Gorbachev and Reagan sign an arms control agreement in December 1987 banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev and Reagan sign an arms control agreement in December 1987 banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

Gorbachev shakes hands with businessman — and future US President — Donald Trump at the US State Department in December 1987. It was before a luncheon held in Gorbachev's honor.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Doug Mills/AP

Gorbachev shakes hands with businessman — and future US President — Donald Trump at the US State Department in December 1987. It was before a luncheon held in Gorbachev’s honor.

Gorbachev shows Reagan around Red Square during Reagan's visit to Moscow in May 1988.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Gorbachev shows Reagan around Red Square during Reagan’s visit to Moscow in May 1988.

Gorbachev, bottom right, and members of the Politburo vote to remove Andrei Gromyko, bottom center, as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in October 1988. Gorbachev would then succeed him in the role.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Boris Yurchenko/AP

Gorbachev, bottom right, and members of the Politburo vote to remove Andrei Gromyko, bottom center, as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in October 1988. Gorbachev would then succeed him in the role.

Gorbachev visits New York with Reagan and US Vice President George H.W. Bush in December 1988.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Gorbachev visits New York with Reagan and US Vice President George H.W. Bush in December 1988.

A Moscow woman and her cat watch Gorbachev's New Year message in December 1988.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images

A Moscow woman and her cat watch Gorbachev’s New Year message in December 1988.

Gorbachev and Cuban President Fidel Castro wave during Gorbachev's visit to Cuba in April 1989.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Julio Etchart/Panos Pictures/Redux

Gorbachev and Cuban President Fidel Castro wave during Gorbachev’s visit to Cuba in April 1989.

Gorbachev greets East German leader Erich Honecker after arriving in East Berlin in October 1989.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Boris Yurchenko/AP

Gorbachev greets East German leader Erich Honecker after arriving in East Berlin in October 1989.

Gorbachev addresses a group of business executives in San Francisco in 1990.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

David Longstreath/AP

Gorbachev addresses a group of business executives in San Francisco in 1990.

Coretta Scott King presents Gorbachev with the Albert Einstein Award for his contribution to peace in June 1990.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Greg Mathieson/Shutterstock

Coretta Scott King presents Gorbachev with the Albert Einstein Award for his contribution to peace in June 1990.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Pascal J Le Segretain/Sygma/Getty Images

Gorbachev gives a speech after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in June 1991. He was awarded “for his leading role in the peace process which today characterizes important parts of the international community.”

Gorbachev shakes hands with Bush, then president, in Moscow in July 1991.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Rick Wilking/Reuters

Gorbachev shakes hands with Bush, then president, in Moscow in July 1991.

Gorbachev rubs his eyes while speaking in Moscow in August 1991. He threatened to resign if the Soviet Union fell apart. That month, hard-liners in his country staged a revolt while Gorbachev was on vacation in the Crimea. Boris Yeltsin, the president of the biggest Soviet republic and a fierce critic of what he considered Gorbachev's halfway reforms, came to Gorbachev's rescue, facing down and defeating the coup plotters.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Gorbachev rubs his eyes while speaking in Moscow in August 1991. He threatened to resign if the Soviet Union fell apart. That month, hard-liners in his country staged a revolt while Gorbachev was on vacation in the Crimea. Boris Yeltsin, the president of the biggest Soviet republic and a fierce critic of what he considered Gorbachev’s halfway reforms, came to Gorbachev’s rescue, facing down and defeating the coup plotters.

Gorbachev held a news conference the day after he returned from Crimea in August 1991. He had been held captive in his dacha by coup plotters attempting to remove him from power in order to stop his economic reform policies. The coup leaders had stated publicly that Gorbachev was stepping down due to ill health. Here, Gorbachev holds a crumpled note that he had hidden on his body to explain what really happened in case he was killed.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Robert Wallis/Panos Pictures

Gorbachev held a news conference the day after he returned from Crimea in August 1991. He had been held captive in his dacha by coup plotters attempting to remove him from power in order to stop his economic reform policies. The coup leaders had stated publicly that Gorbachev was stepping down due to ill health. Here, Gorbachev holds a crumpled note that he had hidden on his body to explain what really happened in case he was killed.

Gorbachev closes his resignation speech after delivering it on Soviet television in December 1991. Across the Soviet Union, republics — one after another — were declaring independence. Shortly after his speech, the Soviet hammer-and-sickle flag was lowered from the Kremlin, and in its place rose the white, blue and red flag of Russia.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Liu Heng Shin/AP

Gorbachev closes his resignation speech after delivering it on Soviet television in December 1991. Across the Soviet Union, republics — one after another — were declaring independence. Shortly after his speech, the Soviet hammer-and-sickle flag was lowered from the Kremlin, and in its place rose the white, blue and red flag of Russia.

Gorbachev and Reagan spend time together at Reagan's ranch in California in May 1992. Both were no longer in power.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Bob Galbraith/AP

Gorbachev and Reagan spend time together at Reagan’s ranch in California in May 1992. Both were no longer in power.

From left, Bush, Gorbachev and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl attend a ceremony at Prague Castle in 1999. They were among six former world leaders being honored with the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech state award.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Michal Dolezal/CTK/AP

From left, Bush, Gorbachev and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl attend a ceremony at Prague Castle in 1999. They were among six former world leaders being honored with the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech state award.

Gorbechev bows his head at Reagan's funeral in June 2004.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Rich Lipski/The The Washington Post/Getty Images

Gorbechev bows his head at Reagan’s funeral in June 2004.

Gorbachev talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin before a news conference in Germany in December 2004.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Jochen Luebke/DDP/AFP/Getty Images

Gorbachev talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin before a news conference in Germany in December 2004.

CNN founder Ted Turner and Gorbachev answer questions during a United Nations news conference in 2005. Gorbachev was presenting Turner with the Alan Cranston Peace Award later that day.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

jasaseosmm founder Ted Turner and Gorbachev answer questions during a United Nations news conference in 2005. Gorbachev was presenting Turner with the Alan Cranston Peace Award later that day.

Gorbachev shakes hands with a member of Green Cross International during a tour of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward in 2007. Gorbachev founded Green Cross International, an environmentalist organization.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Ann Heisenfelt/AP

Gorbachev shakes hands with a member of Green Cross International during a tour of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward in 2007. Gorbachev founded Green Cross International, an environmentalist organization.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone/AP

Gorbachev and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shake hands at the UN’s European headquarters in 2009. The theme that day was “resetting the nuclear disarmament agenda.”

Gorbachev appears on stage during the finale of the Gorby 80 Gala in London in 2011. The concert celebrated Gorbachev's 80th birthday.

Photos: Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Gorbachev appears on stage during the finale of the Gorby 80 Gala in London in 2011. The concert celebrated Gorbachev’s 80th birthday.

The Kremlin announced a day of national mourning following Yeltsin’s death in 2007, and his funeral was attended by a host of world leaders, including Putin, former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, Britain’s former Prime Minister John Major and Prince Andrew, as well as former Polish president Lech Walesa.

Gorbachev’s funeral lacked a similar roster of famous guests, as Moscow has banned hundreds of foreign officials from entering Russia in retaliation for Western sanctions. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan were among the few dignitaries spotted at the remembrance.

Speaking to jasaseosmm, Sullivan called Gorbachev “a remarkable man” and “a statesman who changed the world, with his vision for peace, for transformation in his own country and in the world.”

This article has been published on blog.Jasaseosmm.com under the title Russians say farewell to USSR’s last leader Mikhail Gorbachev in funeral snubbed by Putin

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