Farewell to Gorbachev: without Putin, but with Orban

Farewell to Gorbachev: without Putin, but with Orban
Farewell to Gorbachev: without Putin, but with Orban

In Moscow, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was given a sober funeral on Saturday. Hundreds of people gathered in the House of the Union, where his body is in state. Excels in absence: Vladimir Putin.

Many people have brought flowers for the last tribute to Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday evening at the age of 91. The last Soviet leader lies in state in the House of Trade Unions, which traditionally was the place where the funerals of the leaders of the former Soviet Union took place. The coffin, covered with a tricolor Russian flag, was carried in to melancholy music from the film Schindler’s List.

In the early afternoon, Gorbachev is buried next to his wife in the cemetery for prominent people at the Novodevichy Convent. His beloved Raisa Gorbachova died of leukemia in 1999.

Due to the war in Ukraine, no European political leaders were expected at the funeral. France and Germany sent their ambassadors to Russia. Nevertheless, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban decided to make the trip to Moscow. In his own words to ‘pay tribute’ to the former leader. According to the Kremlin, he will not meet Putin.

Outside the people flocked for the funeral ceremony.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Friend of the West

In the Western world, Gorbachev is highly regarded for his role in ending the Cold War, but in Russia he is mainly associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Many Russians blame him for the economic and political malaise. which followed the end of their empire, in the shoes. The sober ceremony contrasts sharply with the state funeral that Gorbachev’s successor Boris Yeltsin received from Putin. A day of national mourning was also declared.

Putin had a complex relationship with Gorbachev. He considers the collapse of the Soviet Union one of the greatest ‘geopolitical disasters’, but allowed a public farewell to take place. A state funeral, however, would be too much honor. Putin said he had a “too busy schedule” to attend the funeral. He paid a final greeting on Thursday. Ex-president Dmitry Medvedev is present at the ceremony, according to the Russian news agencies.

Gorbachev stood for ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’: openness and reform. He allowed more openness of ideas and debate and started disarming the Soviet Union. Putin has turned the clock completely back on that front in recent decades. From Gorbachev’s circles, it can be noted that the former Soviet leader was “shocked and stunned” by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Farewell Gorbachev Putin Orban

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