Former Soviet leader Gorbachev laid to rest

STORY: Gorbachev was set to be buried without state honors or President Vladimir Putin in attendance.

He was however granted a public send-off, with authorities allowing Russians to view his coffin in the imposing Hall of Columns, within sight of the Kremlin, where previous Soviet leaders have been mourned.

It was little surprise that Putin, a long-time KGB intelligence officer who has called the Soviet Union's collapse a "geopolitical catastrophe", denied Gorbachev full state honors and said his schedule did not allow him to attend the funeral.

Putin, however, paid his respects to Gorbachev alone on Thursday (September 1) and the Kremlin said its guard of honor would provide an "element" of a state occasion at the funeral for Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War.

Gorbachev became a hero to many in the West for allowing eastern Europe to shake off more than four decades of Soviet communist control, letting East and West Germany reunite, and forging arms control treaties with the United States.

But when the 15 Soviet republics seized on the same freedoms to demand their independence, Gorbachev was powerless to prevent the collapse of the Union in 1991, six years after he had become its leader.