The last Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to be buried today

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Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader who brought the Cold War to a peaceful end, will soon be buried in Moscow, four days after he died at 91.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be attending the funeral because of his work schedule, the Kremlin says.

However, this is widely seen as a snub to the man who oversaw the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Mr Gorbachev took power in 1985, introducing bold reforms and opening the USSR to the world.

But he was unable to prevent the collapse of the union in 1991, and many Russians blame him for the years of turmoil that ensued.

Outside Russia, he was widely respected, with the UN Secretary General António Guterres saying he had “changed the course of history”, and US President Joe Biden calling him a “rare leader”.

The Gorbachev Foundation says the funeral ceremony will begin at 10:00 local time (07:00 GMT), with members of the public paying their last respects to Mr Gorbachev.

He will lie in state in the historical Columned Hall of the House of Unions – like several of his Soviet predecessors, including Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev.

Later on Saturday Mr Gorbachev will be buried in Moscow’s largest cemetery, Novodevichy, which is the final resting place of many prominent Russians. He will lie next to his wife Raisa, who died of leukaemia in 1999.

President Putin earlier sent his “deepest condolences”, describing how Mikhail Gorbachev had had “a huge impact in the course of history”.

Putin however indicated he will not attend the burial citing a busy schedule.

The hospital in Moscow where Mr Gorbachev died on Tuesday said in a short statement that he had been suffering from a long and serious illness. It did not reveal the cause of death.

In recent years, his health had been in decline and he had been in and out of hospital. In June, international media reported that he had been admitted after suffering from a kidney ailment.

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