Funeral of last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to take place on Saturday

The funeral for former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will take place in the famous Hall of Columns inside Moscow's House of Unions. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - The funeral of the Soviet Union's last leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday in Moscow aged 91, will take place on Saturday, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Mr Gorbachev's daughter Irina.

The funeral will take place in the famous Hall of Columns inside Moscow's House of Unions, Interfax reported, the same place where Josef Stalin's body was put on display following his death in 1953.

Mr Alexei Venediktov, former editor of the Ekho Moskvy radio station and a friend of Mr Gorbachev, also said in social media posts that the funeral would take place on Saturday, Sept 3.

The press service of the Gorbachev Foundation told Interfax that the ceremony will take place between 10am and 2pm Moscow time (0700 and 1100 GMT) and will be open to all.

The same day, Mr Gorbachev will be buried at the prestigious Novodevichy cemetery, Irina added.

A source close to the Gorbachev family had earlier told news agency TASS that he would be buried next to his wife Raisa.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said earlier that the Kremlin would decide on Wednesday whether Mr Gorbachev would be given a state funeral.

The TASS news agency reported Mr Peskov as saying that the Kremlin would announce later whether President Vladimir Putin would attend Mr Gorbachev's funeral.

Putin earlier on Wednesday sent Mr Gorbachev's relatives his condolences via telegram, while the Kremlin hailed the late politician as an extraordinary global statesman who helped end the Cold War, but had been badly wrong about the prospect of rapprochement with the "bloodthirsty" West.

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