Non-state funeral of Gorbachev: Yeltsin was said goodbye much more magnificently

The farewell ceremony for the first president of the USSR will be similar to the farewell ceremony for Zhirinovsky

The funeral of the first president of the USSR will not be like the funeral of the first president of Russia. The ceremony will be about the same as that of Vladimir Zhirinovsky – without mourning and live broadcast. Farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev will take place on Saturday in the Hall of Columns, after which the politician will be buried next to his wife at the Novodevichy Cemetery. Gorbachev's daughter Irina, after visiting the Presidential Administration, could not clarify whether her father's funeral would have state status.

Gorbachev will be buried nearby with his wife at the Novodevichy cemetery. Photo: Gennady Cherkasov

In the public domain there are no documents regulating the funeral of presidents – former or current. However, how the ceremony should take place is known from the experience of 2007, when Boris Yeltsin was buried. Recall that the first president of Russia died on April 23 at 15.45. And already in the evening of the same day, Vladimir Putin's decree “on declaring mourning” appeared, in which he ordered the creation of a state commission headed by the head of the Presidential Administration, the cancellation of entertainment events and the live broadcast of the funeral on TV channels.

The decree also stated that Yeltsin would forever remain in the memory of Russians “as a reformer and consistent supporter of democratic reforms.” The burial place of the first president of the Russian Federation was determined by the Novodevichy cemetery. And the place of farewell is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It was the wish of Yeltsin's relatives, who wanted the ceremony to take place in a “holy place”, and not in the Hall of Columns, where they said goodbye to Soviet leaders.

The “people's” farewell lasted from evening until the morning of the next day: during this time, according to media reports, 20-30 thousand people passed by the coffin. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov later said that in order to ensure mass participation, the city authorities had to attract state employees. The official ceremony, which took place behind the closed doors of the temple, was attended by Putin himself, all former prime ministers of Russia, leaders of the CIS countries, foreign ambassadors, as well as representatives of foreign states who personally knew the deceased (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, John Major, Lech Walesa, Giulio Andreotti, etc.). From the CSU to the Novodevichy cemetery, a hearse with the body of Yeltsin was accompanied by an escort of motorcyclists.

Then the coffin was placed on a cannon carriage, and the last part of the journey he did on the shoulders of the officers of the Moscow Military District. The funeral ended with an artillery salute and the anthem of the Russian Federation performed by a military band. In addition, a funeral reception for 500 people was held in the Georgievsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, where Vladimir Putin made a short speech.

In 2017, from a document posted by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on the portal of draft regulatory legal acts, it became known how much is laid for the funeral of senior officials. It indicated that it was about the “presidents of the USSR and Russia”, that is, at that time it was assumed that Mikhail Gorbachev, in the event of his death, would be buried according to the state protocol and at public expense. The Ministry of Defense estimated the burial of the coffin with the body at 706 thousand rubles. (in 2017 prices), and the burial of an urn with ashes (if the relatives of the deceased decide on cremation) – 592 thousand rubles.

It was planned to spend 3.9 million rubles on the installation of the tombstone. It is obvious that the adjustment of these rates should have been carried out every year. But such documents were no longer in the public space.

However, in any case, Mikhail Gorbachev will not be buried the way Yeltsin was buried. This became obvious after the comments of Dmitry Peskov, who said that the “format of the procedure” and Vladimir Putin’s participation in it would depend “on the wishes” of the relatives and friends of the deceased politician. At the time of signing the issue, the president had not issued a decree on the formation of a state commission to organize the funeral of the first and only president of the USSR (recall that when Yeltsin died, it took just a few hours).

It is known that Gorbachev's daughter Irina went to a meeting with the Presidential Administration. A source familiar with the details of the discussion told MK that “the ceremony will be modest” – the farewell will take place on Saturday. A civil memorial service will be held in the Hall of Columns from 10 am to 2 pm – everyone will be allowed in there. The protocol service of the President of the Russian Federation is responsible for the organization.

Whether politicians from countries unfriendly to Russia will be able to say goodbye is not entirely clear. However, so far only the former President of Poland, Lech Walesa, has publicly announced his desire to see Gorby on his last journey. “I'm not afraid to go to Russia. I have lived my life and I have no problems with the Russians, because I know that I am right, not they,” he said.

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel refused to attend the ceremony, citing a knee injury she suffered three weeks ago. And the current Western leaders have so far limited themselves to statements about the outstanding role of Gorbachev in modern history. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that many high-ranking EU politicians are banned from entering the Russian Federation, their planes cannot cross the country's air borders due to sanctions.

On Wednesday afternoon, the president held a meeting with members of the government: contrary to expectations, no a moment of silence was announced and no mention was made of Gorbachev's death at all. When Yeltsin died, Putin recorded a video message and also rescheduled the address to the Federal Assembly, which he was supposed to deliver on the day of his predecessor's funeral.

Life of Mikhail Gorbachev in photos: CPSU, Raisa, perestroika and resignation

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