Funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev († 91) in Moscow: Russia quietly says goodbye politics

Russia bids farewell to former Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev († 91), who enjoyed a great reputation, especially abroad.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is considered one of the fathers of German unity, will be buried in Moscow on Saturday. He died on Tuesday after a long, serious illness.

Unlike after the death of Russian President Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), there will be no state funeral. It will be a quiet farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev.

House of Trade Unions within sight of the Kremlin: Mikhail Gorbachev is first laid out here before he is buried in Moscow's celebrity cemetery at the Novodevichy Convent

Photo: EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/REUTERS

Because of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and the associated sanctions, no leading politicians from Europe were initially expected at the funeral service.

︎ Surprisingly, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (59) announced a trip to Moscow on Saturday. Orban, known for his special path with regard to Russia, wanted to "pay his last respects" to Gorbachev, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Kremlin immediately emphasized that no meeting between Orban and Vladimir Putin (69) was planned.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (59) traveled to Moscow on Saturday to pay his last respects to Mikhail Gorbachev

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (59) traveled to Moscow on Saturday to pay his last respects to Mikhail Gorbachev

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Former Russian President and current Deputy Head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev (56) laid flowers on the coffin

Former Russian President and current Deputy Head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev (56) laid flowers on the coffin

Photo: SPUTNIK / via REUTERS

Gorbachev's body has been laid out for several hours since 9 a.m. (CEST) in the House of Trade Unions within sight of the Kremlin. Traditionally, the coffins of the Soviet leaders are placed there after their death.

The mourners can then say goodbye to Gorbachev. Former Russian President and current Deputy Head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev (56) laid flowers on the coffin.

︎ After the funeral service, he is to be buried in the Moscow celebrity cemetery at the Novodevichy Convent - next to his wife Raissa.

Raisa and Mikhail Gorbachev in Spain (1992).  The former Soviet head of state is buried next to his wife in Moscow's celebrity cemetery at the Novodevichy Convent

Raisa and Mikhail Gorbachev in Spain in 1992. The former Soviet head of state is buried next to his wife in Moscow's celebrity cemetery at the Novodevichy Convent

Photo: private

Earlier it was already known: Putin will not participate. His spokesman Dmitri Peskow justified this with scheduling problems.

Putin had Gorbachev on his coffin paid their last respects on Thursday. As a co-owner of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which is critical of the Kremlin, Gorbachev criticized restrictions on press freedom and other authoritarian moves under Putin.

Putin paid his last respects to Mikhail Gorbachev on Thursday. The Kremlin despot will not appear at the funeral service because of "scheduling problems".

Photo: Uncredited/dpa

Germany will be represented by the chargé d'affaires of the embassy in Moscow. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (64, SPD) justified his decision not to take part by saying that there was no invitation.

A mourning flag was ordered in several federal states.

It would not have been possible for many foreign politicians to attend the funeral anyway, because the Russian side imposed entry bans on them in response to Western sanctions.

︎ In addition, the airspace in Russia is closed to aircraft from "unfriendly EU countries". For this reason, foreign ambassadors and diplomats in particular will say goodbye to Gorbachev.

Soviet head of state and party leader Mikhail Gorbachev (l.) is welcomed with the traditional fraternal kiss by the head of the state council, Erich Honecker, after his arrival at the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the state of the GDR on October 6, 1989 in East Berlin

Soviet head of state and party leader Mikhail Gorbachev (l.) is welcomed with the traditional fraternal kiss by the head of the state council, Erich Honecker, after his arrival at the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the state of the GDR on October 6, 1989 in East Berlin

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa

Gorbachev was seen as paving the way for the end of the Cold War. Under his leadership, the Soviet Union signed groundbreaking nuclear disarmament and arms control treaties with the United States in the 1980s.

In his homeland, as General Secretary of the Communist Party, he introduced an unprecedented reform process with his policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring).

► The political process ultimately led to the collapse of the communist empire. Many politicians and citizens of Russia therefore see Gorbachev as the "gravedigger of the Soviet Union", who plunged Russia into chaos at the time.

Especially in East Germany Gorbi enjoyed because of the opening of the communist system and that of Moscow great reputation at the time the Berlin Wall fell.

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