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Russia Remembers Yeltsin

Russia is honoring the memory of their former president, Boris Yeltsin. One year after his death, Russian leaders unveiled a new monument to their first president, a man who began his career as a construction project manager. From Moscow, Colin McCullough reports for VOA.

Members of Russia's political elite gathered around the grave of Russia's first democratically elected leader, Boris Yeltsin, to mark the one-year anniversary of his death. At the grave site a new monument was revealed, dedicated to the memory of the former leader.

At the memorial service, a military chorus performed Russia's national anthem - an anthem that was changed shortly after the end of Mr. Yeltsin's term, to follow the music of the old Soviet anthem, with lyrics reflecting Russia's new status.

Those in attendance included Russia's president-elect Dmitry Medvedev and Mr. Yeltsin's successor, Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Putin called his predecessor "one of the brightest politicians of the 20th century."

Boris Yeltsin became president in 1991 and has been credited with helping bring an end to communist rule in Russia.

His presidency was marked by economic and democratic reforms, sometimes leading to unstable conditions in the 1990s. In 1993, he dissolved the country's parliament, leading to a standoff that ended with tanks shelling Russia's parliament building. Additionally, he waged an inconclusive war against a separatist movement in Chechnya.

Alexander Konovalov is an analyst at the Russian-based think tank, the Strategic Assessments Institute.

He says that all leaders, including great ones, will have a mixed legacy, but Yeltsin's role in the transformation of Russia was overall very positive.

Health problems plagued the former Russian president in his later years, and he resigned before the end of his second term, in December 1999. His resignation allowed his then prime minister, Vladimir Putin, to become the interim president.

Other efforts to commemorate the former leader include naming his alma mater, in the city of Ekaterinburg, in his honor.