Russians bid farewell to former Soviet leader Gorbachev

Apparently there wasn’t even an invitation: that’s how Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) justified that he wouldn’t attend the funeral. Instead, Germany will be represented by the chargé d’affaires of the embassy in Moscow, and mourning flags have been ordered in several federal states.

Putin is not attending due to scheduling issues

Many foreign politicians would not have been able to attend the funeral anyway, as the Russian side banned their entry in response to Western sanctions. Russian airspace is also closed to flights from “unfriendly EU countries”. For this reason, especially foreign ambassadors and diplomats will say goodbye to Gorbachev.

“We have become a completely different country.”

As co-owner of the Kremlin-critical newspaper “Novaya Gazeta”, Gorbachev criticized, among other things, restrictions on press freedom and other authoritarian power moves under Putin.

On the other hand, the Russian president has repeatedly used Gorbachev as a weak statesman. Although he did not directly comment on the former Soviet leader, he called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the century.” In 2005, Putin said, “It was a tragedy for the Russian people, millions of our citizens suddenly found themselves outside the Russian borders.” Different people’s land, and what was built over 1,000 years is largely lost.”

“There is nothing in the world as precious as human life”

The narrative of the innocent, vulnerable Gorbachev was also present in the obituaries published by the Russian media. In the eyes of many Russians, Gorbachev is at the root of all problems, writes the Tas news agency. Read more about this here.

Mikhail Gorbachev on a visit to the United States in 1992: He is credited with paving the way for the end of the Cold War. (Source: Bill Greenblatt/Imago Pictures)

Shortly after Russia’s attack on Ukraine in late February, Gorbachev spoke again: in a statement he called for a “speedy end to hostilities and the immediate start of peace talks.” Gorbachev wrote, “There is nothing in the world as precious as human life.”

However, as a politician, Gorbachev himself did not follow the latter realization: his tenure in office included the cover-up of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the bloody suppression of several peaceful protests, for example in Georgia and Lithuania. Read more about this here.


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