Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist Dmitry Muratov holds a portrait of the late former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev after a farewell ceremony at the Pillar Hall of the Bundestag in Moscow on Saturday.

R.Russian Those who came to see former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for the last time on Saturday mourned both him and his policies that gave them hope. President Vladimir Putin claimed he was too busy to attend.

Gorbachev, who died Tuesday at the age of 91, initiated sweeping reforms that helped end the Cold War. But he also caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Putin called the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of his 20th century.

Seeing his corpse in a gaudy hall near the Kremlin was overshadowed by the perception that the openness that Gorbachev had championed had been suppressed under Putin.

Mourner Ilya, a financial services worker in her early 30s who refused to give her last name, said, “I want to thank him for having a childhood of freedom.

“I am the son of Perestroika.

“I want more people like him in our history,” said another mourner, Yulia Prividnaya. “We need such politicians to solve the situation in a world on the brink of World War III.”

After viewing, Gorbachev’s body was buried next to his wife Raisa in the Novodevichy Cemetery. Many famous Russians are buried there. Among them was Boris Yeltsin, the first post-Soviet president whose power struggle with Gorbachev hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The procession to carry the coffin to the cemetery was led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov. Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s last major Kremlin critical news outlet, closed its doors in March. Gorbachev began writing his thesis using his own Nobel Prize funding.

The Kremlin’s refusal to formally declare a state funeral reflected misgivings about Gorbachev’s legacy. Gorbachev is universally revered for breaking down the Iron Curtain, but at home he is widely criticized for impoverishing millions of people with the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent economic collapse. .

On Thursday, Putin personally laid flowers at Gorbachev’s coffin at the Moscow hospital where he died. The Kremlin said the president’s busy schedule would prevent him from attending the funeral.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday that the president had a series of working meetings, international phone calls scheduled, in Russia’s Far East, when asked about the specific business that kept Putin busy. Said it is necessary to prepare for the business forum. Join next week.

Gorbachev’s body was unveiled to the public in the Pillar Hall of the Bundestag, a gorgeous 18th-century mansion near the Kremlin that has been the site of state funerals since Soviet times.

Mourners passed by Gorbachev’s open coffin flanked by honor guards and offered flowers as solemn music was played. Gorbachev’s daughter, Irina, and his two granddaughters were sitting by the coffin.

The hall, with its magnificent chandeliers flanked by columns, hosted balls for the nobility under the emperor and served as a venue for high-level meetings and conferences during the Soviet era, along with state funerals. As mourners entered the building, they saw a large picture of Gorbachev standing with a wide smile, flanked by honor guards. This was a reminder of the bright vitality he brought to the Soviet leadership after a series of sullen and ailing predecessors.

It was so successful that it was extended two hours beyond the scheduled two hours. Jim Heinz & Vladimir Izachenkov, Moscow, MDT/AP

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