Gorbachev’s funeral, burial will reflect his varied legacy

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. rigid / ˈrɪdʒ ɪd / (adj.) – not willing to change or adjust

    As a rigid person, he always follows the same schedule every day.

  2. break the mold / breɪk ðə moʊld / (idiom) – to do something that is different from tradition

    Chika Kuroda broke the mold by becoming the first Japanese woman to receive a Bachelor of Science.

  3. inter / ɪnˈtɜr / (v.) – to place a body in a tomb

    The soldier’s body was interred in the cemetery for heroes.

  4. dominant / ˈdɒm ə nənt / (adj.) – more successful, powerful, noticeable than all others

    The company became dominant just 10 years after entering the market.

  5. dissent / dɪˈsɛnt / (n.) – public disagreement or dissatisfaction with an official suggestion or plan

    The people expressed their dissent through protests when additional tax laws were signed.


Read the text below.

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

Gorbachev, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who died August 20, was laid in state on September 3, 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 of them were then interred outside the Kremlin walls — the mummified Lenin in an enormous mausoleum and the others in the nearby necropolis.

But Gorbachev was 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 was 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.

A few days before the funeral, the Kremlin had not yet announced whether it would 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 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.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Unlike previous Soviet leaders, Gorbachev displayed his affection for his family and wife publicly. Why do you think other leaders choose to be private about their family lives? Do you think it is okay for leaders to be open about their private lives? Discuss.
  • Personally, do you like to keep your life private or do you talk to friends and coworkers about it? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Gorbachev was praised by some world leaders and criticized by others because his government crushed dissent. Do you think leaders should be open to criticism? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • If your country’s leader has a different opinion from yours, would you express your disagreement? Why or why not? Discuss.