Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised the country?s first post-Soviet leader, the late Boris Yeltsin, for his decisiveness and unveiled a statue to him in his Urals hometown of Yekaterinburg on Tuesday.
"Present-day Russia should be grateful to President Yeltsin for the fact that, in our most difficult period, we did not sway from the path of change," said Medvedev, speaking on what would have been Yeltsin?s 80th birthday.
"He was a genuine leader," he added. "He was very brave and never compromised on even insignificant, let alone significant, issues."
Medvedev also said today?s Russia was "down to Boris Yeltsin and all those who helped him form the basis for a new state."
Yeltsin, who has been both praised as a champion of democratic reforms and criticized for impoverishing millions of Russians, died of heart failure at the age of 76 on April 23, 2007. He was Russia`s president from 1991-1999 and was succeeded by Vladimir Putin.