Yeltsin laid foundations of modern Russia - Medvedev

Russians should be thankful to their first President Boris Yeltsin because the country did not turn off the path of change, Dmitry Medvedev has said.

­The Russian president on Tuesday attended a ceremony marking the unveiling of a monument to Yeltsin who would have turned 80 on Tuesday. The memorial was erected on the street named in honor of the former Russian leader. Yeltsin’s presidential center is being constructed nearby.

Despite the difficulties, Russia went through transformation under Yeltsin and is now moving forward, Medvedev said. He believes Yeltsin’s merit and that of those who helped him build the new state is that Russia is a modern country now. It is developing, even with problems. During the Yeltsin time “foundations were laid on which our state is based,” he noted.

The path of the first president always involves considerable difficulties, Medvedev stressed. “The first president always has to solve very complicated problems regarding changes of the state’s foundations, this is what fell on Yeltsin’s lot.”

Watch RT’s exclusive interview with Naina Yeltsina, widow of President Yeltsin


Russia had been looking forward to great changes to its economic and political system, but nobody expected them to be so dramatic, Medvedev said. He described Yeltsin’s reforms as painful, but necessary, and stressed they had been carried out despite difficulties. The present Constitution “of the modern and strong state,” was also adopted at that time.

The unveiling of the monument is a significant event for Russia, Medvedev noted. “Boris Nikolayevich loved his country, he was part of the country. He was a brave and decisive man who never accepted a compromise, he always tried to push his position forward. It is not easy, but it is extremely necessary in certain situations.”

Yeltsin’s strength helped the country to go through a difficult period, when the foundations of the state were being laid, Medvedev said. “Resolution and will characterize this monument,” the president said, referring to the unveiled memorial. “These are the traits that distinguished Russian citizen Boris Yeltsin.”

­Read related column by Nikolay Svanidze here