Gorbachev gets snubbed on full state funeral, Putin not attending

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Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, will not receive a full state funeral in Russia following his passing earlier this week, the Kremlin confirmed Thursday.

“There will be elements of a state funeral in the sense that there will be a guard of honor. A farewell will be organized. In this case, the state will assist in organizing these funerals,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters according to Interfax. 

It is unclear how exactly the funeral service will differ from a full state funeral, though Gorbachev rival and the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, was buried with full state honors in 2007 after his passing. 

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Putin, who succeed Yeltsin, also declared a national day of mourning. 

Gorbachev – championed by Western nations for helping end the Cold War and awarded a noble peace prize for his efforts to slow the nuclear arms race – holds a legacy that stand at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Mikhail Gorbachev was a politician and statesman who had a huge impact on the course of global history,” Putin said in a carefully worded message Wednesday.

Putin’s comments omitted past criticisms he has levied at the final USSR leader’s policies that led to the fall of the Soviet Union – a move Putin has decried as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”

The Kremlin said Thursday that Putin will not be attending Gorbachev’s funeral service due to scheduling issues, though the Russian president on Thursday paid his respects at the hospital where Gorbachev’s body is being held until the service.

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“Putin is now undoing everything that Gorbachev has achieved,” Russia expert and former intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency, Rebekah Koffler, told Fox News. 

“Gorbachev ended the Cold War, Putin has launched a new Cold War with the U.S. and the West by attacking Ukraine,” Koffler added. “Gorbachev’s policies eventually led to the collapse of the USSR and Putin is trying to re-constitute USSR.”

Though while relations between the West and Russia have not been this strained since the height of the Cold War, Putin’s popularity at home remains high. 

Despite Putin’s efforts to restrict rights, his ability to control the narrative in Russia through propagandist tools has paid off.

“Gorbachev tried to democratize Russia and Putin has tightened government control and turned Russia into a totalitarian state again,” Koffler said. “The irony is that Gorbachev is disliked in Russia, while Putin is feared and respected, with his approval rating still high even as the war on Ukraine rages on.”

The funeral service for Gorbachev is set for Sept. 3. 

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