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25 Sep, 2007 19:40

One of founding fathers of Russian democracy remembered in Moscow

Anatoly Sobchak, one of the co-authors of the Russian Constitution, was a key figure in Russia's political history. On the day of what would have been his 70th birthday, thousands gathered to pay their respects to his memory.

A tribute concert held in central Moscow brought together some of the most distinguished people in Russian politics, business and arts. They were all united in their opinion that  Anatoly Sobchak was an outstanding figure, and that his legacy lives on through the work he did, as well as in the memories of those who knew him.

Anatoly Sobchak began his political career in 1989, in Leningrad's Congress of Peoples Deputies of the Soviet Union. Being the only deputy with a legal background, he contributed greatly to most laws created over the next two years.

In 1991 he became the first directly-elected mayor of St Petersburg. Over the next five years the city underwent major changes, reverting back to its historical name, and once again came to be considered the northern capital of Russia.

It is during this time that Vladimir Putin worked with Mr Sobchak as his deputy and since that time he has referred to him as his 'mentor'.

Indeed the Russian President's memories of Anatoly Sobchak comprise the first chapter of the book dedicated to the legislator. The idea for the book was put forward by his widow, Lyudmila Narusova, and was welcomed by all those who knew him.

Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksey Kudrin, Federation Council Chairman, Sergey Mironov, and world-famous ballerina Maya Plisetskaya are just some of the people who shared their memories of Anatoly Sobchak.

Anatoly Sobchak died in February 2000 during a trip in support of Vladimir Putin's election campaign. At the time there was speculation as to the cause of death, but the criminal investigation showed no evidence that his death was unnatural.

To this day he is regarded as one of the founding fathers of Russian democracy.

The book is entitled 'What He Was Like". Most have noted the sadness of the past tense but agree that his legacy will live on for a long time yet.