Gates Expresses Condolences on Death of Yeltsin
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
MOSCOW, April 23, 2007 U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, here for meetings with Russian leaders, expressed his sympathies on today’s death of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
“He was an important man in Russian history,” Gates told U.S. and Russian reporters here.
Gates is in Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian leaders to discuss U.S. plans to deploy missile defense assets in Eastern Europe. From here, the secretary is slated to travel to Poland and Germany to meet with senior leaders on the topic.
Yeltsin was the first president of the Russian Federation. He served from July 1991 until December 1999.
“No Americans at least will forget seeing him standing on the tank outside the (Russian) White House resisting the coup attempt,” Gates said, referring to the former president’s public defiance of a communist coup just a month after he took office.
Gates noted that Yeltsin received him in the Kremlin during a 1992 visit.
“I think he was an important figure in Russia’s evolution toward democracy,” the secretary said.