When the late Soviet head of state Gorbachev is commemorated on Saturday, one person is missing: Russia's President Putin. No time, he says. However, he had already laid flowers on the statesman's coffin. It is still unclear who will be able to travel to the funeral service from abroad.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be absent from Saturday's memorial service for the late former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. "We know that the main ceremony and the funeral will take place on September 3 - but the president's schedule does not allow him to be present," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Putins is on a business trip in Kaliningrad and therefore cannot attend. However, he had already gone to the Moscow hospital where Gorbachev died and laid flowers there. The Kremlin distributed a video sequence showing Putin at Gorbachev's coffin.
In fact, Russian news agencies, citing Gorbachev's family and his foundation, reported on Wednesday that the official funeral service for the last president of the Soviet Union was to take place on September 3 in the Hall of Columns in central Moscow. Gorbachev will then be buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.
According to the Kremlin, the celebration should contain "elements of a state funeral". "Among other things, there will be a guard of honor and a funeral service will be organized, with the state helping to organize it," said Peskow. It was still unclear whether international guests could come to such a state funeral in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the largely cut flight connections.
The historic columned hall of the Trade Union House in central Moscow is reserved for funeral services for high-ranking Russian politicians. The dictator Josef Stalin was also laid out there after his death in 1953.
Gorbachev died in Moscow on Tuesday at the age of 91. He led the Soviet Union as its head of state from 1985 to 1991. He campaigned for a détente with the West. The news of his death sparked sympathy around the world.