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Big names to miss Gorbachev’s funeral, courtesy Russia-Ukraine War

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Moscow: Not only will Russian President Vladimir Putin not attend the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, as the Kremlin has confirmed, but many European leaders will also have to skip the last rite of the Soviet Union’s last leader.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin’s work schedule would not permit him to attend the event on Saturday.

Among other notable absentee from the funeral will be many of the foreign leaders who might have been expected to attend but are currently barred from Russian soil, in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Top politicians from the US, UK, EU, Japan and Canada are among those on the exclusion list, including US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the two candidates vying to succeed him, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, the BBC reported.

Peskov on Thursday said Putin has paid his respects at the Moscow hospital where Gorbachev died on Tuesday, aged 91.

Gorbachev’s reforms helped end the Cold War, but saw the demise of the Soviet Union, which Putin has lamented.

In 2005, the Russian president said the break-up of the USSR was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] Century”.

However, in his telegram of condolences to Gorbachev’s family on Wednesday, Putin struck a more conciliatory note, describing him as “a politician and statesman who had a huge impact on the course of world history”, the BBC reported.

On Thursday, Russian state television showed Putin placing red roses beside Gorbachev’s coffin in Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital.

“Unfortunately, the president’s work schedule will not allow him to do this on September 3, so he decided to do it today,” Peskov told the media.

Gorbachev’s funeral, which will be open to the public, will take place in Moscow’s Hall of Columns.

Afterwards, he will be buried at the city’s Novodevichy cemetery, next to his wife Raisa, who died in 1999.

Peskov said Gorbachev’s ceremony would have “elements” of a state funeral and that the state was helping to organise it.

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