London: The death of Mikhail Gorbachev could prove a point of yet more tension between Russia and the West as it emerged on Wednesday the former Soviet leader may not receive a state funeral, media reports said.
Gorbachev died on Tuesday at the age of 91 in the midst of the war in Ukraine which resulted in a complete breakdown in relations between Vladimir Putin and Western leaders, who have implemented strict sanctions designed to hamper the Kremlin’s war effort, Daily Mail reported.
When the first President of Russia – Boris Yeltsin – died in 2007, ex-US Presidents George Bush senior and Bill Clinton both flew to Moscow alongside former British premier John Major.
And when Gorbachev’s predecessor in the Kremlin, Konstantin Chernenko, died in 1985, a clutch of serving Western leaders, including British PM Margaret Thatcher and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl attended his funeral, Daily Mail reported.
But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on Wednesday that Kremlin was still deciding on the scale of the funeral for Gorbachev, who was despised by many pro-Putin hardliners for his role in bringing about the end of the Soviet Union.
And the sorry state of political relations combined with the wide ranging sanctions placed on Russia by Western governments mean Putin is unlikely to allow political leaders from Europe and the US to attend any ceremony, Daily Mail reported.
With sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, including a ban on flights to Moscow, the Russian tyrant is highly unlikely to agree to host Western leaders who have for months openly criticised him and his actions.
Putin may also be reluctant to come into close proximity with Western leaders at a time when rumours of his declining health are rife and his public appearances are rare and often painstakingly choreographed.