Putin pays respect to Gorbachev before fleeing to shady hideaway on Europe’s doorstep | World | News


Vladimir Putin has landed in Russia‘s shadowy enclave of Kaliningrad after a brief appearance in Moscow to lay flowers on Gorbachev’s coffin. The stop-over in Kaliningrad means Putin is set to miss the former USSR leader’s state funeral on Saturday. Kaliningrad, which sits on the Baltic Sea and is positioned just 50 miles from Poland, was annexed to the Soviet Union at the end of WW2 and is a major Russian military hub. 

Footage aired on Russian TV showed the Russian leader laying a bouquet of red roses by the coffin of the last leader of the USSR.

A black-clad Putin paused for a moment bowed and then crossed himself during the brief appearance. 

The Kremlin later announced that Putin was en route to Kaliningrad with a diary clash meaning he would not be attending Gorbachev’s funeral on Saturday. 

Putin landed in Kaliningrad on Thursday afternoon with the Russian Presidental office putting out a statement listing his official itinerary for the trip. 

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The Kremlin statement read: “The President of Russia will visit the Museum and Theatre Educational Complex and will conduct an open lesson titled Talking of What Matters, which will be attended by the winners of Olympiads and competitions in the field of culture, art, science, and sport.

“Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon will take part, via videoconference, in an official ceremony to open five Russian-language secondary schools in Tajikistan.

“After that, members of the Supervisory Council of the Russian Public-State Movement of Children and Youth will hold their first in-person meeting, chaired by the President of the Russian Federation.

“That same day, Vladimir Putin will hold a working meeting with Kaliningrad Region Governor Anton Alikhanov and will visit a branch of the Nakhimov Naval School.”

The service will be open to the public and Gorbachev will then be buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery, TASS news agency cited Vladimir Polyakov, press secretary for the Gorbachev Foundation, as saying.

Many high-ranking politicians, intellectuals, poets and royals have been buried at the Novodevichy cemetery since it was established in the 16th century – among them Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president, and Gorbachev’s political rival.

It is also the resting place of Gorbachev’s wife, Raisa, who died in 1999. Nikita Khrushchev is the only other Soviet leader buried there, with most others laid to rest by the Kremlin’s walls on Red Square.

When Yeltsin died in 2007, he was buried with full state honours. President Vladimir Putin, his successor, declared a national day of mourning.

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