Yeltsin Buried in Moscow

Boris Yeltsin, first President of the Russian Federation, died on 23rd April 2007 of heart failure and was buried today in Novodevichy Cemetery (and not in the Kremlin, as with other Russian leaders).

Hailed by many as the herald of democracy in Russia, Yeltsin seized power after defying the attempted August coup of 1991 and quickly won the hearts of the Russian people with his promises on the rights to free speech, private property and multi-party elections, as well as for opening the borders to trade and travel.

However that popularity didn't last long. His 'shock' economic reforms in the early 90s plunged Russia into financial crisis, and rapid inflation destroyed many ordinary people's savings plunging the average Russian into poverty. Furthermore many blame Yeltsin for handing over all the economic - and by extension political - power to the small number of Oligarchs, now the most influential men in the country, during a decade marred with corruption and violence. Yeltsin was also criticised for his drinking problems, often appearing drunk in public.

Leaders from all around the world have been offering tributes in the wake of Yeltsin's death, with perhaps the most poignant from his predecessor Mikhail Gorbachev:

"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".

Gorbachev attended today's funeral along with Vladimir Putin, Bill Clinton, John Major and Lech Walesa. The ceremony began at Christ the Saviour Cathedral and ended in the Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow.


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