Putin will skip Mikhail Gorbachev's funeral, citing work schedule
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid personal respects to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at a hospital in Moscow on Thursday but will not attend his funeral on Saturday due to his "working schedule," the Kremlin said.
The big picture: Gorbachev, who died Tuesday at the age of 91, was a valorized figure in the West. He oversaw liberalizing reforms in the Soviet Union and strengthened ties with the West, before ultimately presiding over its peaceful collapse.
- But his legacy is more complicated in Russia. Putin himself has lamented the Soviet Union's collapse as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century."
- "Gorbachev gave an impulse for ending the Cold War and he sincerely wanted to believe that it would be over and an eternal romance would start between the renewed Soviet Union and the collective West," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday, per AP.
- "This romanticism failed to materialize. The bloodthirsty nature of our opponents has come to light, and it's good that we realized that in time," Peskov added.
Driving the news: The Kremlin on Thursday released a 30-second video of Putin crossing himself and placing a bouquet of flowers by Gorbachev's open coffin at the Moscow hospital where he is being kept ahead of the funeral, the New York Times reported.
- "Regrettably, the president's working schedule wouldn't allow him to do that on Saturday, so he decided to do that today," Peskov told reporters on a call Thursday, per AP.
Peskov said Putin made a stop at the hospital before leaving for a trip to the Baltic region of Kaliningrad.
- Peskov said Saturday's funeral would have "elements of a state funeral, such as an honor guard," Russian news agency Interfax reported, per the Times.