Mikhail Gorbachev funeral held in Moscow as Putin too busy to attend

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The Guardian

Hundreds of mourners are lining up in central Moscow to bid farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union often credited with bringing an end to the cold war.

The farewell ceremony, which is being held in the Hall of Pillars in Moscow’s House of the Unions, will be followed by a closed funeral in the Novodevichy cemetery.

While the funeral would contain “elements of a state funeral,” a Kremlin spokesperson said, it will not be attended by the Russian president Vladimir Putin due to his “work schedule”.

Nonetheless, the security presence was heavy in central Moscow, where armed police and armoured vehicles were stationed downtown. The Russian government is overseeing some arrangements for the funeral, which should include a military guard of honour.

Bearing bouquets of carnations and roses, mourners spoke of “paying tribute” to Gorbachev’s legacy and the “gift of freedom” he gave the country, despite the anger many Russians felt toward him for hastening the end of the Soviet Union.

He remains a hero for many liberal Russians.

“I am here to pay tribute to a great man,” said Galina Ivanchenko, who was carrying a bouquet of carnations. “He took on a burden that none of us could have and he should be remembered for that, despite what everyone says.”

She said she hoped with time more Russians would remember him more fondly in the future.

“Who hasn’t made mistakes?” she asked. “He should be forgiven. He should never have been blamed.”

September 3, 2022 at 01:55PM Andrew Roth in Moscow

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