in Moscow, his funeral takes place without Vladimir Putin, who was content with a minimal tribute

Honor guards stand near the coffin of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, at the House of Trade Unions in Moscow, Russia, September 3, 2022.

The funeral of the last leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Mikhail Gorbachev, takes place on Saturday September 3 in Moscow, without President Vladimir Putin, a sign of the controversial legacy of the father of perestroika in Russia.

Great political figure of the XXe century, Mikhail Gorbachev passed away on Tuesday eveningat the age of 91, following a “long and serious illness”, depending on the hospital where he was being treated. He made history by reluctantly precipitating the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, as he tried to save it with democratic and economic reforms, thus ending the Cold War.

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Responsible for Russian decommissioning, according to Moscow

Hailed in the West as a man of peace, Mikhail Gorbachev is seen by many in Russia as responsible for the geopolitical downgrading of Moscow and the years of political, economic and moral crisis that followed the fall of the USSR. Sign of this disaffection, no day of national mourning has been announced, even if “State Funeral Elements” will be present at his burial, including a "guard of honor"underlined the Kremlin.

By way of comparison, Boris Yeltsin, first president of the Russian Federation, in power during the years of painful transition to a market economy, and who had designated Vladimir Putin as his successor, had been entitled to strong honors. on his death in 2007. The Kremlin then declared a day of national mourning and organized an official funeral, in the presence of MM. Putin and Gorbachev.

Vladimir Poutine absent

The funeral of the last leader of the Soviet Union began with a farewell ceremony at 9 a.m. at the House of Trade Unions, a symbolic place in the Russian capital where the remains of several communist dignitaries were exposed, such as that of Joseph Stalin in 1953.

Inside, a portrait of the former leader sat next to the open coffin, near which Gorbachev's daughter, Irina, sat. Two uniformed guards were posted on either side of the coffin, while visitors laid flowers before bowing respectfully before the body. A few hundred people had come to pay tribute to Mr. Gorbachev in the early morning, noted Agence France-Presse.

The former Soviet leader will then be buried in the Novodevichy cemetery, next to his wife, Raisa Gorbatcheva, who died in 1999.

The list of people who will attend the funeral is not known, but the Kremlin has already announced Thursdaythat President Putin would be absent due, officially, to a " timetable " charged. The day after his death, Mr. Putin paid him a first minimal tribute on Wednesday, in a message of condolence. In a neutral tone, he noted that Mikhail Gorbachev had had "a great influence on the history of the world" and that he had "strive to come up with their own solutions to problems". The relationship between the two men was complex, oscillating between marks of esteem and mutual reproaches, before giving way to cordial indifference.

Viktor Orban in Moscow

By contrast, Western capitals, from Washington to Berlin, via Paris and Rome, warmly celebrated the memory of Gorbachev, hailed for having worked for East-West rapprochement and a reduction in nuclear arsenals, which had earned him 1990 Nobel Peace Prize. Germany, whose reunification was made possible by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the USSR, announced that the flags would be at half mast in the German capital on Saturday.

But in a context of heightened tensions between Russia and Western countries due to the conflict in Ukraine, only one foreign leader announced his trip to attend the funeral in Moscow: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

His trip comes as Hungary made public, on Wednesday, a strengthening of its exchanges with Gazprom and receives additional deliveries of gas, at a time when its European partners are facing a sharp reduction quantities supplied. Since returning to power in 2010, Mr. Orban has forged ties with Russia, a collaboration maintained despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Putin, however, did not plan to meet Mr. Orban during his visit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, explaining that“there have been no requests for interviews”.

The World with AFP

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