The Russians lined up to finally see Mikhail Gorbachev. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin (69 years old) was not part of the celebration.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Putin did not have time to attend, but the president instead visited Gorbachev on a stretcher alone on Thursday.
– It’s great that there are long queues to give Gorbachev his last compliments. Not least because there were a lot of young people. It indicates a silent protest against the current regime, believes Ina Sangadzhieva of the Helsinki Committee.
– What do you think about the absence of Putin?
I think it has to do with Putin’s fear of his own people. He does not want to be compared to Gorbachev, does not want to be photographed in such a place. Perhaps he is afraid of provocations.
– It is also a symbol that Gorbachev opened a democracy that was never allowed to develop properly. I had hoped today would open up an opportunity for silent protest, and we got it.
Historian Andrei Zubov says the same thing as Sangadzhieva in an interview with Reuters. He also believes that the large number of young people who participated is a sign of silent protest. At the same time, Zubov is disappointed that there are no more people.
Former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul tweeted this week that it was “pathetic but not surprising that Putin did not have the decency to attend Gorbachev’s funeral”:
Hungarian Viktor Orban was the only head of state present. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was among the few political leaders in Moscow who were present.
Neither Prime Minister Mikhail Misgustin nor Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov nor Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu bid final farewell to Gorbachev, who was the last head of the Soviet Union. He passed away on Tuesday at the age of 91. After a memorial in the house of the trade union movement, he was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery, next to his wife Raisa.
The regime seems to have been slightly affected by Gorbachev’s death. They didn’t know how to act. Today’s ruling elite is distancing itself from what he started. They describe what he defended as chaos, and that it destroyed everything, says Inna Sangadzhieva.
– He didn’t dare
– But why didn’t they attend the anniversary?
– I simply think they did not dare. Like Putin. They are afraid of their own people. They knew that it could become a form of protest, and that silent marking was a form of protest.
Inna Sangadzhieva, the Russian herself, describes what Mikhail Gorbachev meant for her:
Mikhail Gorbachev gave many, including myself, the opportunity to experience freedom. And stop being afraid.
Although there are a number of celebrities on Saturday, few are known outside of Russia. Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov and opposition politician Grigory Yavlinsky were two exceptions.
Not least the star Alla Pugacheva was in her place.
– It is symbolically important, says Sangadzhieva.
Note: Vladimir Putin had a phone conversation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Saturday, according to reports Kommersant. In addition, the Russian media did not mention that Putin was busy with official duties on Saturday.
“Organizer. Social media geek. General communicator. Bacon scholar. Proud pop culture trailblazer.”