Hundreds of people marched to the House of Trade Unions in Moscow to pay homage to the last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on August 30 at the age of 91 following a “long and serious illness.”
Hundreds of Russians bid farewell to the Soviet Union's last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, on Saturday at a lackluster funeral marked by the absence of President Vladimir Putin.
A great political figure of the 20th century, Mr Gorbachev died on Tuesday evening at the age of 91 after a long and serious illness, according to the hospital where he was being treated.
He made history by precipitating, in spite of himself, the disappearance of the Soviet empire in 1991, when he was trying to save it with democratic and economic reforms, thus ending the Cold War.
Hailed in the West as a man of peace, Mr. Gorbachev is seen by many in Russia as responsible for Moscow's geopolitical downgrade and the years of political and economic crisis that followed the fall of the USSR.
A sign of disaffection from Russian power, no day of national mourning has been announced. Above all, the funeral took place in the absence of Vladimir Putin, justified by the Kremlin by a busy schedule.
On Saturday morning, a few hundred people were nevertheless queuing in front of the House of Trade Unions in Moscow, where the coffin of the former leader was exposed, to say goodbye to him, noted Agence France-Presse (AFP). ).
Inside, a portrait of Mr. Gorbachev was placed next to the open coffin, near which his daughter, Irina, sat.
< p class="e-p">Two uniformed guards stood on either side of the coffin, while visitors laid flowers before bowing respectfully before the remains.
But in the midst of an open crisis between Moscow and the West over the conflict in Ukraine, no major world leader was present at the ceremony.
The Nationalist Prime Minister Hungarian Viktor Orban, close to the Kremlin, is the only foreign leader whose arrival was announced on Saturday, at the last moment. According to the Russian presidency, no meeting is planned with Vladimir Putin.
The House of Trade Unions, where Mr. Gorbachev's coffin rests, is an emblematic place where the remains of several leaders of the USSR were exposed, including that of Joseph Stalin in 1953.
Mikhail Gorbachev's coffin is on display at the House of Trade Unions in Moscow. Apart from the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, no foreign leaders will come to the site.
After this ceremony, the former leader is to be buried in the Novodevichy cemetery, in side of his wife Raisa Gorbacheva, who died in 1999 and to whom he was very close.
If he did not attend the funeral on Saturday, Mr. Putin would ;discreetly visited the Moscow Central Clinical Hospital, where Mr. Gorbachev died, on Thursday to lay a bouquet of red roses.
In his condolence message, Mr. Putin paid minimal tribute to the deceased: in a neutral tone, he noted that he had had a great influence on world history and that he #x27;strove to come up with his own solutions to the problems of the USSR.
The relationship between the two men was complex, oscillating between marks of esteem and reproaches before giving way to cordial indifference.
By contrast, Western capitals, from Washington to Berlin, via Paris and Rome, warmly underlined the memory of Mr. Gorbachev, hailed for having worked for East-West rapprochement and the reduction of nuclear arsenals. This had earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
Germany, whose reunification was made possible by the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the USSR, announced that the flags would be at half mast in the capital on Saturday.
But, in Russia, the former leader is seen by many as the gravedigger of the great Soviet power that rivaled America and whose end, considered humiliating, gave way to a decade of crises and violence. .
Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia in power during the years of painful transition to a market economy, and who had appointed Vladimir Putin as his successor, had been entitled , he received honors upon his death in 2007.
When Boris Yeltsin died in 2007, Vladimir Putin authorized an official funeral and a day of national mourning (archives).
The Kremlin then declared a day of national mourning and organized an official funeral, in the presence of Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Gorbachev.