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Putin, Who Mourned USSR Loss, Offers Gorbachev Faint Praise

  • Kremlin spokesman calls last Soviet leader romantic about West
  • No word yet on state burial for Gorbachev, unpopular in Russia
Mikhail Gorbachev at a book store in Moscow in 2017.

Mikhail Gorbachev at a book store in Moscow in 2017.

Photographer: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images
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Russian President Vladimir Putin famously described the Soviet Union’s collapse as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” On Wednesday, he marked Mikhail Gorbachev’s death with only muted praise for the leader who oversaw the Communist state’s demise.

Putin called his Kremlin predecessor “a statesman who had an enormous impact on the course of world history” in a short condolence telegram to family and friends published on the Kremlin’s website. Gorbachev led the country during “a period of complex, dramatic changes,” Putin said in the message that also praised his charitable and humanitarian activities in later years.