Russia prepares for Yeltsin funeral

( CNN ) - Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin has been remembered for his success as the man who dismantled the Soviet Union as well as for his failings in office.

Yeltsin, who died age 76 Monday, led Russia in its first chaotic years of independence.

He suffered health problems since resigning from office on December 31, 1999, and suffered sudden heart failure, medical sources told Russia's Interfax news agency

As tributes poured in from current and former world leaders, there has also been acknowledgement of Yeltsin's failings in office, including a privatization drive that handed state assets to loyal business moguls at rock-bottom prices.

"The malevolence of fate: everything he initiated turned out the opposite way round. He wanted to make many rich but only enriched a few," Associated Press reported the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Yeltsin nominated as his successor, has called Yeltsin's widow, Naina, to express his condolences, Interfax reported.

The Kremlin said Yeltsin's funeral would take place on Wednesday. Putin has issued a decree declaring Wednesday a day of national mourning, AP reported.

Yeltsin became the first democratically elected president of Russia in 1991 and two months later put down a coup attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Yeltsin is being remembered as a courageous fighter for democracy -- and sometimes quirky behavior.

Former Soviet President Gorbachev said Monday: "I express my deep condolences to the family of the departed. He did a lot for this country, even though he committed serious errors. A tragic fate."

One of the images most associated with Yeltsin is that of him sitting on a tank during the raucous street rallies that marked the coup attempt.

"I think that is the image that he would like people to have forever," former Yeltsin adviser Alexander Nekrassov told CNN Monday.

But just two years later, he ordered tanks to storm the Russian White House to oust barricaded deputies who dug in after Yeltsin dissolved parliament, accusing it of blocking reforms.

In a later interview, Gorbachev accused Yeltsin of "trampling on democracy."

Yeltsin was both loved and hated by fellow Russians, said Matthew Chance, CNN's senior international correspondent in Moscow.

"[Many] Russians who lived under his power didn't think much of him," Chance said.

A large part of the population blamed him for the overall demise of Russia, Chance said.

In December 1994, Yeltsin sent tanks to stop the fighting in Chechnya in what would become a 21-month conflict. Later he said he couldn't tolerate the "disintegration of Russia," and acknowledged his actions might have been a mistake.

"I feel the pain of every mother's family," Yeltsin said. "My heart bleeds for every victim. It makes me sleepless at night, and no one can help me with that."

Chance said Yeltsin talked about the war in Chechnya as his biggest regret adding that Yeltsin said he felt responsible for the deaths of the Russian soldiers in Chechnya.

Other people remember the more positive aspects of Yeltsin's reign. He played a large part in the demise of the Soviet Union and promoted democratic reform in Russia.

While he was an ideological man who took positive steps to reform his country, Chance said Yeltsin was an inconsistent reformer.

"He was a totally imperfect statesman and certainly had many failings," Chance said.

Yeltsin favored privatization, but sweeping corruption put the vast majority of wealth in the hands of a few individuals who "wielded enormous political power." Chance said this upset and angered many Russians who were left with nothing.

Yeltsin's image on the international stage was very different, said CNN's Jill Dougherty, who served as the network's Moscow bureau chief during Yeltsin's presidency.

Dougherty said everything about Yeltsin was larger than life.

"He was oversized, he was huge, everything about him -- he was physically a giant, a big-barrel chest of complete charisma," she said. "When you met him or were around him he was absolutely charismatic."

While Yeltsin may have been a failed statesman, Dougherty said he had a unique ability to connect with people.

"He was able to -- in the late 1980s, early 1990s -- tap into something that was afoot in Russia. He was able to emotionally connect with people in a way few politicians have ever been able to do."

From Washington, President Bush and first lady Laura Bush also offered their sympathies. "President Yeltsin was an historic figure who served his country during a time of momentous change," Bush said in a written statement.

"He played a key role as the Soviet Union dissolved, helped lay the foundations of freedom in Russia and became the first democratically elected leader in that country's history.

"We offer our sincerest condolences to the Yeltsin family and to the Russian people," the president said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed sadness at Yeltsin's death.

"He was a remarkable man who saw the need for democratic and economic reform and in defending it played a vital role at a crucial time in Russia's history," Blair said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Yeltsin as a "brave fighter."

"Boris Yeltsin was a great personality in both Russian and international politics, a brave fighter for democracy and freedom and a true friend of Germany. His contribution to the development of our relations between our two nations will never be forgotten. We will honor him in our thoughts."

Yeltsin had a darker side as well that included embarrassing incidents in which he appeared to be drunk. In Berlin in 1994, he grabbed a baton from a conductor and tried to direct an orchestra while singing and stumbling.

Armenia must answer in international courts - Azerbaijani MFA (UPDATE)
Armenia must answer in international courts - Azerbaijani MFA (UPDATE)
We are having tea in pear-shaped glasses, baklava on Jidir Duzu. Let our friends rejoice, enemies get blind! - President Aliyev (PHOTO/VIDEO)
We are having tea in pear-shaped glasses, baklava on Jidir Duzu. Let our friends rejoice, enemies get blind! - President Aliyev (PHOTO/VIDEO)
It is such unique feeling to see Shusha, to return to Shusha - President Aliyev
It is such unique feeling to see Shusha, to return to Shusha - President Aliyev
Loading Bars
Latest
Iranian currency rates for January 16
Iran expects balance in foreign currency rates
Azerbaijan's import of grain from Russia's Stavropol for 2020 revealed
Mass inoculation of Russians against coronavirus to begin on January 18
Indonesia quake kills at least 42, injures hundreds
U.S. Health Secretary Azar condemns Capitol violence in resignation letter
UzAuto Motors doubles cars production volume in 2020
France's coronavirus death toll approaches 70,000
Over 600,000 have received Sinovac shots in Turkey's vaccination program
5.4-magnitude quake jolts southern Iran
Hotel occupancy increases in all Georgian regions
Trump directs government to minimize procurement from China
WhatsApp to delay launch of update business features after privacy backlash
Brazil reports more than 1,000 COVID deaths for fourth consecutive day
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 709,000 in past day
UN chief calls for "far greater solidarity" in message on 2 millionth COVID-19 death
Money transfers to Georgia up in December 2020
WHO advises against proof of COVID-19 vaccination for int'l travel
BMW to recall 21,693 cars in Russia
We are having tea in pear-shaped glasses, baklava on Jidir Duzu. Let our friends rejoice, enemies get blind! - President Aliyev (PHOTO/VIDEO)
It is such unique feeling to see Shusha, to return to Shusha - President Aliyev
Commander-in-Chief came to Shusha for first time in 30 years and, frankly, does not want to leave - President Aliyev
Those who grew up over 17 years have liberated these lands - President Aliyev
Prepare report here, not in your cabinets - President Aliyev to international organizations
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 2 mln
People of Azerbaijan will live in Shusha forever - President of Azerbaijan
All martyr families will be provided with apartments and houses by state - President Aliyev
In May 1992, Shusha was occupied as result of betrayal of PFPA-Musavat duo - President Aliyev
Today, I brought busts of our geniuses Khurshidbanu Natavan, Uzeyir Hajibayli and Bulbul to Shusha - President Aliyev
It is impossible to imagine Shusha without Jidir Duzu, and Azerbaijan without Shusha - President Aliyev
Mausoleum of Molla Panah Vagif was inaugurated exactly 39 years ago, I was standing right here - President Aliyev
After desecrating busts of our genius personalities, Armenians took them to Armenia to be melted down and sold - President Aliyev
Armenia must answer in international courts - Azerbaijani MFA
I said no, we will take these busts back only after liberating Shusha from enemy, put them in their original places - President Aliyev
Iran ready to establish joint automobile company in Iraq
Kyrgyzstan’s public debt reaches USD 4 bln 887.46 mln
Turkey reports over 8,000 new COVID-19 cases
UK records another 55,761 coronavirus cases, 1,280 deaths
Israel has vaccinated over 2 mln people against COVID-19
Britain tightens borders to keep out new COVID-19 strains
Kazakhstan's national operator for main oil pipelines reports decrease in oil transport
Int'l community must condemn Armenia's actions against Islamic religious monuments - Azerbaijani MP
Azerbaijani Economic Council holds first meeting in 2021
Shusha's residents proud of seeing Azerbaijani president in Shusha city
Group supporting Russian export to Azerbaijan renders assistance for foreign trade transactions in 2020
President of International Judo Federation congratulates Azerbaijani president
Azerbaijan increases total volume of exported gas in 2020
European Gymnastics to focus on competitions planned for 2021
Azerbaijan's foreign trade balance remains positive in 2020
Export operations between Azerbaijan and Australia greatly increase
Azerbaijan establishes National Agency for Mine Clearance of Territories of Azerbaijan
Int'l structures willing to cooperate for 'Green Energy Zone' in Azerbaijan's Karabakh (PHOTO)
Georgia reveals volume of electricity imported from Azerbaijan
Georgian Hualing Group implements new construction project
Georgia outstripping European preferences for innovations in some areas - MasterCard
Afghanistan always supports Azerbaijan in its just cause - Ambassador
Azerbaijani, Finnish FMs discuss latest situation in region
Whole world to see rapid economic recovery in Azerbaijan's liberated lands - Russian MP
Azerbaijani, Russian FMs exchange views on tasks of Jan. 11 joint statement
Georgian Enguri HPP rehabilitation project carried out with support of EBRD and EU
President of Georgia, NATO Secretary-General to meet in Brussels
How can leaders of Muslim countries be friends with country that destroyed mosques? - President Aliyev
President Aliyev presented Holy Quran to Saatli Mosque
In near future, we will ensure restoration of Shusha in planned manner - President of Azerbaijan
Despite all pressures, phone calls and threats, I said that we would go to end - President Aliyev
I have come to Shusha using the victory road - President Aliyev
Great return begins, all work has begun - President of Azerbaijan
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan resume regular flights
Azerbaijan sees growth trend in car insurance segment
Azerbaijan’s PASHA Bank ends 2020 with big profit
Wells Fargo profit beats Wall Street estimates as credit costs fall
Citigroup quarterly profit beats estimates as loan loss provisions slow
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office appoints Special Representative for South Caucasus
Parliament's plan on steel sector to damage Iran's exports - Steel Producers Association
Azerbaijan announces starting date for COVID-19 vaccination
Port of Baku starts cooperating with Belgium-based int'l training center
Azerbaijani ombudsman visits persons detained during anti-terror operations in liberated lands
Most of Uzbekistan’s population to be provided with COVID-19 vaccine
International DOPPELMAYR to finish construction of Georgian ropeway
Demand for marble products of plant in Turkmenistan’s Akhal region increased
Azerbaijan shows video footage from Gasimli village of Aghdam district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Uzbekistan reconstructs number of water supply and sewerage networks Bukhara region in 2020
Azerbaijan discloses amount of compensation paid to depositors of closed banks
New gas compressor station put into operation in Turkmenistan
Jewelry production plant launched in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent
Georgia sees increase in subsistence minimum
Establishing Nakhchivan corridor will add new artery to Middle Corridor - AIR Center
Georgian citizens to have high-quality COVID-19 vaccines
Azerbaijan confirms 494 more COVID-19 recoveries
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva: I am very happy to be in our liberated ancient city of Shusha (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Karabakh regional branch of Regional Development Public Association to operate in Shusha
Azerbaijan, Pakistan discuss prospects for development of military co-op
Azerbaijan's 11M2020 expenses for importing EU goods up
BMW aims to double fully-electric vehicle sales in 2021
Embassy of India organizes online business meeting to promote Indian Basmati rice (PHOTO)
Askar Mamin reappointed Kazakhstan's prime minister
Azerbaijani wagon washing station shows record performance following automation (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan reveals number of vessels repaired at 'Bibiheybat' Shipyard in 2020
Schoolchildren gain their first achievement in 2021 with Azercell’s support
Azerbaijan’s import of fruits, nuts down in 2020
All news