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Putin denies Gorbachev a state funeral

Putin denies Gorbachev a state funeral

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the funeral of the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, denying the man who failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire the full state honors accorded Boris Yeltsin.

Gorbachev, idolized in the West for allowing Eastern Europe to escape Soviet communist control but unloved at home for the chaos his reforms have unleashed, will be buried on Saturday in a public ceremony at Moscow's Hall of Columns. Reuters.

The Great Hall, outside the Kremlin, hosted the funerals of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev. Gorbachev will be given a military honor guard, but his funeral will not be a state one.

Russian state television on Thursday showed Putin placing red roses next to Gorbachev's coffin, left open as is traditional in Russia, at Moscow's Central Hospital, where he died on Tuesday at the age of 91.

Putin made the sign of the Russian cross before briefly touching the edge of the coffin.

"Unfortunately, the president's work schedule will not allow him to do this on September 3, so he decided to do it today," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.