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Yeltsin dead

Moscow, April 23
Boris Yeltsin, the first-ever popularly elected President in Russian history after triggering the final collapse of the Soviet Union, has died. Announcing the death of ailing Yeltsin (76), Kremlin spokesman Alexander Sairnov gave no cause for the death or further information. The Interfax news agency cited an unidentified medical source as saying he had died of heart attack.

Yeltsin was widely hailed as an effective reformer but his era was a traumatic period in Russian history. His rule was marked by widespread corruption, economic collapse and enormous political and social problems.

In June 1991, vodka-loving Yeltsin came to power on a wave of high expectations. On June 12 Yeltsin was elected president of the Russian Federation with 57 per cent of the vote, becoming the first popularly elected president in Russian history.

By the time he left office in a dramatic address on New year's Eve 1999, Yeltsin was a deeply unpopular figure in Russia.

He was a protege of Mikhail Gorbachev, damaged his democratic credentials by using force to solve political disputes, though he claimed his actions were necessary to keep the country together. PTI

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Yeltsin was for pragmatic ties with India

Moscow, April 23
Boris Yeltsin will be remembered in India as the man who repositioned Moscow's foreign policy towards New Delhi and Beijing in spite of pressure from the pro-US camp in the Kremlin.

Yeltsin, who visited India in 1993 within two years after becoming the first Russian President, was in favour of a more pragmatic and less ideological relationship.

The high point of his visit was a Peace and Friendship Treaty signed with Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. The forerunner of this treaty was the historic Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty initialled between Indira Gandhi and Leonid Brezhnev.

Yeltsin, who was the President between 1991 and 1999, was to have visited India for the second time in 1998, but ill-health forced him to abandon the plans.

Yeltsin's visit in 1993 helped cement Indo-Russian ties, which got a further boost after Prime Minister P.V Narasimha Rao had a summit meeting with the Russian leader in Moscow. The bilateral pact signed during Yeltsin's visit was extended to 2010 by his successor Vladimir Putin.

A salient feature of the pact is to provide for urgent consultations between the two sides in the event of a security threat to either country and for close cooperation to alleviate danger jointly.

Yeltsin had also signed a series of agreements with Indian leaders that sought to end differences on economic and military cooperation. A central issue at that time had been the size of India's debt to Russia, which had been in dispute because of the rapidly falling value of the rouble. PTI

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