Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev laid to rest in low-key ceremony in Moscow snubbed by Putin

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Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, revered in the West for his role in ending the Cold War, is being laid to rest in a low-key ceremony in Russia after his death aged 91.

The Kremlin has refused to declare a state funeral - a reflection of its uneasiness about the legacy of a man whose reforms precipitated the break-up of the Soviet Union - and President Vladimir Putin snubbed the event.

While Mr Gorbachev was venerated worldwide for bringing down the Iron Curtain, he was reviled by many at home for the Soviet collapse and the ensuing economic meltdown that plunged millions into poverty.

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On Thursday, President Putin privately laid flowers at Mr Gorbachev's coffin at the Moscow hospital where he died after a long illness.

The Kremlin says the president's busy schedule would prevent him from attending the funeral.

Mr Gorbachev is being buried at Moscow's Novodevichy cemetery next to his wife, Raisa, following a farewell ceremony at the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions, a mansion near the Kremlin that has served as the venue for state funerals since Soviet times.

At the farewell event, hundreds of mourners passed by Mr Gorbachev's open casket flanked by honorary guards, laying flowers as solemn music played.

His daughter Irina and his two granddaughters sat beside the coffin.

Despite the choice of the prestigious venue, the Kremlin stopped short of calling it a state funeral, with its spokesman saying it would have "elements" of one, such as honorary guards, and the government's assistance in organising it.

Declaring a state funeral for Mr Gorbachev would have obliged President Putin to attend and would have required Moscow to invite foreign leaders, something that he was apparently reluctant to do amid soaring tensions with the West after sending troops to Ukraine.

In the months before he died, Mr Gorbachev was "shocked and bewildered" by Russia's war with Ukraine, his translator said.

The conflict - which has been going on for more than six months - has seen tens of thousands of deaths and huge economic impact.

In recent days, Russia scrapped plans to reopen a major pipeline that sends natural gas to Europe.

Meanwhile, there continue to be fears over security at Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant, whose physical integrity has been "violated".

In the south, there has been much focus Ukrainian forces conducting operations near the occupied city of Kherson - amid suspicions of a long-awaited counteroffensive.