THOUSANDS of people lined up on Saturday outside the historic Pillar Hall in the House of the Unions in Moscow to bid farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev.
The last leader of the Soviet Union died Tuesday at the age of 91 in the Russian capital.
The hall opened at 10 am local time and was due to close two hours later, but Russians were still patiently queuing to get in to pay their respects to Gorbachev. It took mourners two hours to enter the historic building to pay tribute to “Gorbi” and place roses and carnations in front of the coffin.
There was a strong police presence near those queuing at the House of the Unions, with fences and security arches set up along the route. Inside, relatives of the late politician were seated to the right of the coffin, which was in front of a Russian flag with a black ribbon.
Several hundred citizens, families with small children as well as teenagers and older people, both Russians and foreigners, passed in front of the coffin as they came through.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who bid farewell to Gorbachev on Thursday at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow where the former leader died, was unable to attend due to a busy schedule, the Kremlin said.
The only foreign leader who has traveled to Moscow to bid farewell to the man who is considered one of the most important politicians of the 20th century in the West is the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.
Several Western leaders, including US president Joe Biden, have been barred from entering Russia in response to international sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, among others, also bid farewell to the father of perestroika.
Gorbachev will be buried on Saturday afternoon next to his wife, Raísa, who died in 1999, in the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow.