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Official website of the President of Russia

Transcripts   /

Speech at the Funeral of Anatoly Sobchak, Former St Petersburg Mayor

February 24, 2000, St Petersburg

Vladimir Putin: Dear Mrs Sobchak,

Dear Masha and Ksenia,

It is very hard for me to speak here, just as it is for my university classmates and my colleagues here in Leningrad, now St Petersburg, and in Moscow. It is hard because Anatoly Sobchak was our Master, in the broadest sense of the word. He not only taught us law as a system of knowledge—he taught us free thinking and the art of openly expressing our opinions.

Anatoly Sobchak was among the most brilliant contemporary political activists of a national scope. He was one of those who confirmed the moral law in our community and state, and promoted and buttressed democracy. He was one of the authors of the Constitution, Russia’s Fundamental Law. I do not mean that every constitutional clause came from his pen, though he was one of those who wrote the Constitution. I mean that everything he did served to firmly establish the very essence of the Constitution: for the first time in Russian history, man and citizen, with his rights and freedoms, became the focus of a Constitution.

Anatoly Sobchak belonged to the present generation of Russian political activists, who would not rely on others’ experience and learn from others’ mistakes. In everything he did, he based his decisions on his own experience, and he learnt from his own mistakes. He certainly made mistakes, as everyone does. Yet no one would deny what made his core: he was always a man of the utmost openness and absolute honesty. He loved our city. He was a true St Petersburg intellectual, a man of talent and tremendous erudition.

The daily routine makes us forget many things—but today, it is our duty to remember that we avoided the situation taking a critical turn in the hungry winters of the early 1990s thanks to his personal efforts. That was a difficult time, when the state rule and the supply system of this city, with its multimillion population, were completely disrupted. Also through his personal efforts, we avoided bloodshed during the tragic developments of 1991 and 1993.

He was not destined to do many things. Much was only at the start, and much remained his dream. There is no doubt that he was a romantic.

Dear Lyudmila, Ksenia and Masha,

This day is more difficult for you than for any of us. We grieve with you, and share your bereavement. Many Russians share your grief, even those who did not know Anatoly Sobchak in person. They are bereaved because they know him from the television as a brilliant man, a man of talent and courage, resolution and immense kindness, a man of dignity.

It is our duty to implement his plans, and keep his work alive. The memory of Anatoly Sobchak will forever live in our hearts.

Farewell, Anatoly Alexandrovich!

February 24, 2000, St Petersburg