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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK

World: Europe

Raisa laid to rest

Mikhail Gorbachev bids a final farewell to his wife

Raisa Gorbachev, wife of the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has been buried in Moscow.

The BBC's Robert Parsons: "Russia is in mourning today"
Crowds of dignitaries from Russia and abroad gathered for the ceremony including the former German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl and the wife of the present chancellor, Doris Schröder-Köpf.

Mrs Gorbachev died of leukaemia in a hospital in Münster, Germany, on Monday, at the age of 67.

[ image: Naina Yeltsin: symbolic gesture]
Naina Yeltsin: symbolic gesture
She was buried in the prestigious Novodevichy cemetery, the last resting place of many eminent Russians, including the writers Chekhov and Gogol.

A last blessing was read by Archbishop Yuvenali of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The BBC's William Horsley, who was at the funeral, said Mr Gorbachev looked pale and slightly stooped as he walked side by side with his daughter, Irina, and Raisa's sister, Lyudmila Titorenko.

Among those at the graveside was Naina Yeltsin, wife of the Russian leader, Boris Yeltsin. Correspondents say her presence signalled a move towards reconciliation between Mr Yeltsin and his Kremlin predecessor after many years of rivalry.

Mr Yeltsin provided the aircraft to take Mrs Gorbachev's body back to Russia, and gave permission for her burial.

Kohl's tribute

Helmut Kohl, who made a speech at the graveside, said that Mikhail Gorbachev's contribution to world peace and the reunification of Germany would not have been possible without the support of Raisa.

[ image: Russians queue to pay their respects]
Russians queue to pay their respects
On Wednesday, hundreds of Russians queued to pay their respects. Mr Gorbachev sat by the coffin red-eyed with grief.

Mrs Gorbachev was unpopular while her husband was in power, but won public sympathy when it was announced she was suffering from leukaemia.

Mrs Gorbachev had been receiving treatment in Münster for two months. Mr Gorbachev was by her side throughout her illness.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall looks back at Raisa Gobachev's life
Mr Gorbachev repeatedly blamed his wife's ill health on the "suffering" and "stress" caused by the failed coup attempt in August 1991, when Communist hardliners tried to remove him from power.

The couple were detained for three days in their official holiday retreat in Foros, on the Crimean coast.

Shortly afterwards Mrs Gorbachev suffered a stroke and spent 18 days in hospital.

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