Russia: No state guests expected at Gorbachev's funeral

No leading European politician is expected at the funeral of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Russia: No state guests expected at Gorbachev's funeral

No leading European politician is expected at the funeral of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Neither London nor Paris and Berlin will - despite their appreciation for the "father of glasnost and perestroika" - send government politicians to this Saturday's event in Moscow.

The background is the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions against Moscow. Air traffic from Europe to Russia has therefore been suspended. Both sides have closed their airspace to each other.

Russia has also reacted with restrictions on Western politicians and put them on a black list. From Great Britain, for example, both the incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his two possible successors Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have been banned from entering the country by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz justified his decision not to take part by saying that there was no invitation. In this respect, the question does not arise. Predecessor Angela Merkel, in turn, canceled with reference to a knee injury.

In particular, foreign ambassadors and diplomats will pay their last respects to Gorbachev. The Élysée Palace announced that President Emmanuel Macron will be represented by French Ambassador to Russia Pierre Levy.

Germany will be represented at the funeral of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev by the chargé d'affaires of the embassy in Moscow. The German Ambassador Géza Andreas von Geyr could not attend the funeral service this Saturday because of a positive corona test, a spokesman for the Federal Foreign Office said on Friday in Berlin. In his place, therefore, come his protocol representative.

Only the chargé d'affaires of the embassy comes from Austria. The ambassador himself is at a diplomatic conference in Vienna.

Burial at the Moscow celebrity cemetery

Gorbachev's daughter Irina said her father's funeral service would be modest. The body is first laid out for several hours in the House of Trade Unions, within sight of the Kremlin. Traditionally, the Soviet leaders were displayed there after their death, so that all mourners can say goodbye to them. Gorbachev is then to be buried in the Moscow celebrity cemetery at the Novodevichy Convent.

Even if Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov promised "elements of a state funeral" for the funeral - among other things, there should be a guard of honor in the trade union building - the event will not be nearly as extensive as the funeral of Russian President Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), for example . Yeltsin's funeral service took place in the central Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and President Vladimir Putin delivered a eulogy.

The Kremlin boss will stay away from the funeral service this time. His spokesman Peskov justified this with scheduling problems - Putin is preparing his trip to the Far East of Russia, where he wants to inspect a major military maneuver, among other things. Putin therefore paid his last respects to Gorbachev on Thursday.

In Russia, Gorbachev does not have nearly the status that he enjoys abroad. Many politicians and citizens see him as the "gravedigger of the Soviet Union", which collapsed under his leadership. Since this was accompanied by massive impoverishment of the population in the 1990s and the outbreak of numerous national conflicts, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is still controversial in his own country.

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