Gorbachev's funeral, burial will reflect his varied legacy

FILE - Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev checks the time on his watch before his resignation speech in the Kremlin on Dec. 25, 1991. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has died Tuesday Aug. 30, 2022 at a Moscow hospital at age 91. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing, File) (Liu Heung Shing, Copyright 1991 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MOSCOW – The funeral and burial plans for Mikhail Gorbachev sum up the crosscurrents of his legacy — final farewells are to be said in the same place where his rigid Soviet predecessors also lay, but he will be buried near men who broke the Soviet mold.

Gorbachev, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who died Tuesday, is to lie in state on Saturday in Moscow's House of Unions. The building located between the Bolshoi Theater and the Duma, the lower house of parliament, for decades held the bodies of deceased Soviet leaders, including Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko.

All them were then interred outside the Kremlin walls — the mummified Lenin in an enormous mausoleum and the others in the nearby necropolis.

But Gorbachev is to be buried in the cemetery of Novodevichy Convent, the resting place for the ousted Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who had criticized Stalin's “cult of personality,” and for Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president who became the ex-USSR's dominant leader.

He is to be buried next to his wife Raisa, a demonstration of their public affection, which was such a contrast to the other leaders' barely visible personal lives.

The Kremlin has not announced whether it will be a state funeral. Gorbachev was a divisive, often-detested figure in Russia, and the state he led — the Soviet Union — no longer exists.

Gorbachev was praised Tuesday by some world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, for being open to democratic changes. Others criticized efforts by Soviet authorities to crush dissent in their countries under his leadership.