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Vladimir Putin laid flowers on the grave of the first President of Russia Boris Yeltsin

February 1, 2021, Moscow

On Boris Yeltsin’s 90th birthday anniversary, Vladimir Putin laid flowers on the grave of the first President of Russia at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

The President also paid respect to film and theatre actor and National Artist of the USSR Vasily Lanovoy and diplomat and statesman Yevgeny Primakov by laying flowers on their graves.

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Question: Today marks the 90th birthday anniversary of the first President of Russia. What does this date mean to you?

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: It is not about me. It is about the country, our people, and our country’s future. Boris Yeltsin led the country during one of the most difficult periods in its history, one might say, a critical period when Russia’s existence as an independent, united and single state was at stake.

What made Boris Yeltsin special? He was never afraid to assume responsibility for what he did and for the fate of the country. Of course, one can always take a critical look at certain aspects of the life, steps or decisions made during such periods in history, or criticise for not making timely decisions. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, they say. But when things start snowballing, we are looking at a completely different situation, and Boris Yeltsin never shunned the burden of responsibility that fell on his shoulders or was laid on his shoulders by fate itself – we are now standing near his grave – or by God.

Of course, the country must remember people like Boris Yeltsin, and I, of course, remember him and will never forget him.

Question: Today, the country said farewell to Vasily Lanovoy – a great actor and a moral compass for all of us. We are aware that you were close, and both of you took part in the Immortal Regiment marches. What did he mean to you?

Vladimir Putin: We were not close, but we were good acquaintances. Indeed, in recent years, we always walked next to each other during the Immortal Regiment march.

I think outstanding artists like Lanovoy do leave an indelible mark in culture, and, one might say, in the lives of many people, because his characters certainly influenced the upbringing of entire generations.

I am very sorry that he has passed away. I would like to lay flowers on his grave as well.

February 1, 2021, Moscow