Thousands of Russians bid farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, in a quiet ceremony.

Unlike many Soviet leaders and his successor, Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the Russian Federation, Gorbachev was not given an official state funeral. However, it was a respectable ceremony. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke earlier this week about “elements of a state funeral”.

For example, there was the guard of honor. Grudt Gorkamp says the ceremony was entirely orchestrated by the Kremlin, the office of the president. A very quiet funeral took place in the hall next to the Parliament, in the Chamber of Trade Unions, where Soviet leaders such as Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev were taken to their final resting place. People can pay their last respects there. More than expected, thousands of people flocked with flowers. Music played in the background as Gorbachev’s family sat around the coffin.

After the ceremony, Gorbachev was buried in the afternoon at a famous cemetery where many famous Russians, such as politicians, scientists and writers, are buried. “It’s a tourist attraction in Moscow, like Père-Lachaise in Moscow (the famous cemetery in Paris, ed.), only a little smaller. It’s a dignified place,” says Groot Courkamp.

Gorbachev was buried next to his wife, Raisa Gorbacheva, who died in 1999.

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