International reactions to the death of Boris Yeltsin

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Following the death of Boris Yeltsin on April 23, 2007 from heart failure at age 76, leaders from around the world sent messages of condolences over the death of the former Russian president.

International reaction[edit]

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin said, declaring April 25, 2007, a day of national mourning, that:

Yeltsin's "presidency has inscribed him forever in Russian and in world history." ... "A new democratic Russia was born during his time: a free, open and peaceful country. A state in which the power truly does belong to the people." ... "the first President of Russia’s strength consisted in the mass support of Russian citizens for his ideas and aspirations. Thanks to the will and direct initiative of President Boris Yeltsin a new constitution, one which declared human rights a supreme value, was adopted. It gave people the opportunity to freely express their thoughts, to freely choose power in Russia, to realise their creative and entrepreneurial plans. This Constitution permitted us to begin building a truly effective Federation." ... "We knew (Yeltsin) as a brave and a warm-hearted, spiritual person. He was an upstanding and courageous national leader. And he was always very honest and frank while defending his position." ... "(Yeltsin) assumed full responsibility for everything he called for, for everything he aspired to. For everything he tried to do and did do for the sake of Russia, for the sake of millions of Russians. And he invariably took upon himself, let it in his heart, all the trials and tribulations of Russia, peoples’ difficulties and problems."[1]

  • Shortly after the news broke, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev issued a statement, saying:

"I offer my deepest condolences to the family of a man on whose shoulders rested many great deeds for the good of the country and serious mistakes—a tragic fate".[2]

  • China's Foreign Minister called him "a sincere friend of the Chinese people" who helped warm relations between the once-hostile neighbors. The spokesman said Yeltsin "made significant contributions to the development of our bilateral ties. With his unfortunate passing, the Chinese people have lost a sincere friend."[3]

  • President George W. Bush said in a statement:

"President Yeltsin was an historic figure who served his country during a time of momentous change. He played a key role as the Soviet Union dissolved, helped lay the foundations of freedom in Russia, and became the first democratically elected leader in that country's history."[4]

"No Americans, at least, will forget seeing him standing on the tank outside of the [Russian] White House resisting the coup attempt."[5]

"As president, he had enormous challenges and difficult mandates, but he certainly brought East and West closer together and helped replace confrontation by cooperation."[6]

"the world will keep of President Yeltsin the memory of a man who, by his courage, his tenacity and his political direction, knew to make the triumph of freedom and engage Russia on the way to democracy.[7]

"Yeltsin was a great personality in Russian and international politics, a brave fighter for democracy and freedom and a true friend of Germany"[8]

"He was a remarkable man who saw the need for democratic and economic reform and in defending that reform he played a vital role at a crucial time in Russia's history."[9]

"President Boris Yeltsin was of major importance to the development of democracy in Russia. Yeltsin was President of Russia at a time of great change — he could be said to have brought democracy to Russia and defended it in challenging circumstances. I have great respect for President Yeltsin’s work in developing Russia and I wish to extend my sympathy to the people of Russia on the death of Boris Yeltsin."[10]

Yeltsin "played a significant role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a totalitarian regime and the birth of a new Russia, whereby he contributed to democratic changes in Europe during the 1980s and 1990s."[11]

"deepest condolences to the family, Russian people and Vladimir Putin for death of the first democratic Russian leader". [12]

"It's sad news, that Boris Yeltsin is dead. We owe the former Russian president respect for standing ground for the democracy of Russia."[13]

"Without a doubt, President Yeltsin — with all the human weaknesses no one is free of — was one of the truly great men of our age. When all was uncertain in the disintegrating Soviet Union, he was the one to set a new course by abolishing the Soviet Union and recognising the independence of the three Baltic States. His repudiation of Communism was unequivocal, and he clearly directed the new Russia towards ever closer cooperation with the rest of Europe. He was a great person in the history of Russia and of Europe."[14]

"When we remember Boris Yeltsin, we remember a person who played an important role in bringing down the Soviet dictatorship and who guided Russia in its first steps towards democracy. Without the contributions Yeltsin made at that time, it is likely that developments could have taken a very different turn. As President, Boris Yeltsin also helped open up Russia for important market economy reforms. In a country where private ownership was previously forbidden or actively opposed, this was an effort that was neither easy nor unproblematic, but was utterly necessary."[15]

"Boris Yeltsin was a man of bold and free spirit who, I believe, will remain in the history of not only Russia but also of the Baltic States and the world. His position accelerated Lithuania’s march towards freedom and contributed to the restoration of the independence of all Baltic States. It was a great honor for us to have such a friend and partner."[16]

  • Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko described Yeltsin as "a great democrat and remarkable politician, whose name is associated with an epoch in the world’s history":

"Boris Yeltsin made a unique contribution to Russia’s revival, promoting the principles of freedom, equality and sovereignty in the former Soviet Union and seeking to fairly rebuild the modern world, and his contribution can only be compared with those by great leaders."[17]

  • Former Kyrgyz state secretary Naken Kasiev said that Yeltsin's first trip abroad as president was to Kyrgyzstan:

Yeltsin "made his first ever (foreign) trip to Kyrgyzstan after he was elected president" ... "Then I also witnessed him lead a delegation to the opening ceremony of the Kyrgyz Slavic University. He was respectful to Kyrgyzstan."[18]

  • President of Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov said in his message to President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

“The news on the sudden death of the first president of Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin was met with the feeling of a deep sorrow in Uzbekistan.”[19]

  • President Alexander Lukashenko, talking "on behalf of the Belarusian people and on his own behalf", said:

"A leader of the nation, in the full sense of the word, has quitted life, a true patriot of his country, an outstanding statesman, a man who was rooting for Russia and its people with all his heart. Boris Nikolayevich, a true friend and a great politician, whose name is linked to the most important and memorable pages in the development of the union relationship between the Belarusian and Russian people, will remain forever in the hearts of Belarusians."[20]

  • Former President Lech Walesa, pointing out that it was Yeltsin, not Gorbachev, who was the driving force that ultimately led to the dismantling of the Soviet Union, said:

"Russia’s First President Boris Yeltsin has invaluable merit to the whole world", concluding that Yeltsin was the first Russian leader to lay flowers to the memorial in Katyn, to graves of thousands of people executed during the USSR repressions in 1937-1953, where about 10,000 Soviet citizens and over 4,000 Polish soldiers are buried. "At the same time, he was strong opponent of withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland and our joining NATO. I pity this person, one has to admit, his life was not kind to him. All of us will die some day."[21]

  • Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski acknowledged Boris Yeltsin's contribution to the development of democracy and freedom. He stressed the late Russian president's role in dismantling the Soviet Union.

"However, he fell short of introducing fully democratic principles in Russia's public life", said Kaczynski, adding hope for times when such democracy shall also become Russia's share. Kaczynski also pointed to Yeltsin's "lack of aggressive attitude in relations with Poland".[22]

"He was a genuine politician. You could change his mind if you talked to him for half an hour. He and Vladimir Putin are two very, very different people."[23]

  • Prime Minister John Howard commented on the death of the late Russian leader Boris Yeltsin:

"I think he will be best remembered as the person who really ultimately did save the arrival of democracy in Russia. That momentous occasion when he stood on the tank outside the Russian Parliament and held back the counter-revolution, if I can put it that way, by the old guard of the former Soviet regime. He has a place in history as a result of that. Later on he lost a lot of credibility on some economic issues, but nothing can wipe out the contribution that Yeltsin made to bringing democracy to Russia." [24][25][26]

"President Yeltsin will be remembered for the critical role he played in advancing political and economic reforms in Russia, as well as in fostering rapprochement between East and West.[27]

References[edit]

  1. Vladimir Putin`s Address on the Occasion of Boris Yelstin’s Passing Kremlin, April 23, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-24
  2. In quotes: Reactions to Yeltsin death April 23, 2007.
  3. People's Daily
  4. President and Mrs. Bush Saddened by the Death of Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin The White House, April 23, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-23
  5. Comments About Boris Yeltsin's Death, April 23, 2007. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
  6. World hails Yeltsin as a courageous but flawed figure April 23, 2007. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
  7. Lettre de condoléances de M. Jacques CHIRAC à la suite du décès du Président Boris ELTSINE Présidence de la République, April 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
  8. Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel kondolierte zum Tode von Boris Jelzin Die Bundesregierung, April 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
  9. Blair tribute to Yeltsin's role; BBC
  10. Statement by President of the Republic Tarja Halonen on the death of former President Boris Yeltsin. Official website of the President of Finland (2007-04-23). Retrieved on 2007-04-23.
  11. President Ilves: Boris Yeltsin played a significant role in the birth of a new Russia. Official website of the President of Estonia (2007-04-23). Retrieved on 2007-04-23.
  12. Umro Boris Jeljcin. B92 (2007-04-23). Retrieved on 2007-04-23. Template:Sr icon
  13. dr.dk tv about the death of Yeltsin
  14. Carl Bildt on Yeltsin's death, April 23, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-23
  15. Fredrik Reinfeldt on Yeltsin's death, April 23, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-24
  16. President of the Republic of Lithuania. Press release. Retrieved: 2007-04-24
  17. http://web.archive.org/web/20070514060743/http://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/data/1_15249.html
  18. Yeltsin: A man with a complicated legacy Radio Free Europe, April 24, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-24
  19. Official Site of Uzbek Government, April 25, 2007.
  20. Alexander Lukashenko Extends Condolences over the Death of the First President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin President of Belarus, April 23, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-25.
  21. Lech Walesa: Boris Yeltsin has invaluable merit to the whole world Regnum News, April 24, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-25.
  22. The Prime Minister gives Yeltsin tribute, April 24, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-25.
  23. Georgia on a mission to win friends by Richard Beeston, in The Times, April 25, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-25.
  24. Yeltsin 'saved democracy' in Russia: Howard by AAP, in The Sydney Morning Herald, April 24, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-04-25.
  25. PM praises Yeltsin's contribution to democracy ABC News Apr 24, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-09-18.
  26. Yeltsin remembered as democracy dancer The World Today, ABC Local Radio Apr 24, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-09-18.
  27. New York - Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the Death of Boris Yeltsin, April 23, 2007. Retrieved: 2007-07-07.