The Kremlin said on Thursday that Vladimir Putin will not go to Mikhail Gorbachev‘s funeral, a snub to the former Soviet leader with whom the Russian President had a contentious relationship.
According to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “Putin’s work schedule will not enable him to take part in the goodbye ceremony for Gorbachev on September 3,” adding that the Russian President paid his respects to Gorbachev today by putting flowers by the coffin at the Central Clinical Hospital.
On Saturday, there will be a public farewell service for Gorbachev, and later that day, his funeral will be held at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery.
Whether Gorbachev, who is acknowledged with aiding in the conclusion of the Cold War, will receive a state funeral remains unknown. The Russian government did not make any plans for a state funeral public when it stated Gorbachev’s passing on Wednesday, in sharp contrast to how it responded to the death of former President Boris Yeltsin in 2007.
Peskov said on Thursday that “there will be aspects of a state funeral.” He said, without elaborating on how this would be different from standard state funerals, “There will be a guard of honor, and a farewell ceremony will be organized. The state will assist in the organization.”
According to the Gorbachev Foundation, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported earlier this week that Gorbachev will be buried close to his wife Raisa, who passed away in 1999. Numerous famous Russians, including authors Mikhail Bulgakov, Anton Chekhov, and Nikolai Gogol, composers Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, and former leaders Boris Yeltsin and Nikita Khrushchev, are buried in the ancient cemetery.
Over the past few years, as part of his foundation’s global outreach efforts to advance free speech and democracy, Gorbachev has been more critical of Putin and his increasingly repressive rule. Putin, who views the fall of the USSR as the “biggest geopolitical calamity” of the 20th century, simultaneously blamed Gorbachev for its collapse.
Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine was not addressed by Gorbachev personally, but his foundation did call for peace talks, stating that “there is nothing more precious in the world than human lives.”
Only a few modern Russian presidents did not have state funerals. Khrushchev, who was overthrown in 1964 after attempting to undo Stalinist policies and who passed away in seclusion in 1971, was the last person to be denied the title.
Because Soviet officials were concerned about demonstrations, his funeral was held in a semi-private setting.
Putin’s response to Gorbachev’s passing was very apart from Yeltsin’s, the man who personally chose Putin as his successor when he was a little-known former KGB agent.
When Yeltsin passed away in 2007, Putin proclaimed a day of national mourning, ordered flags to fly at half-staff, and almost immediately created a special commission entrusted with planning a state funeral.
All Russian TV and radio stations were instructed to halt all entertainment programming in favor of live coverage of the funeral. The former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the former British and Canadian prime Ministers John Major and Jean Chrétien, and the former German President Horst Koehler were among the numerous foreign dignitaries and former world leaders there.
Gorbachev’s burial is not anticipated to draw many VIP visitors from outside of the country.
In retaliation for the sanctions the West imposed on Russia due to its involvement in the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow has put a travel ban on hundreds of foreign officials.
The lengthy list of world leaders who are currently prohibited from entering the country includes US President Joe Biden, Secretaries of State Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin, outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Theresa May, as well as his likely successor Liz Truss, as well as the Prime Ministers of Japan and Canada.