Moscow, 12 June 1997 (RFE/RL) -- President Boris Yeltsin told Russians today that their homeland is still a great international power that is now respected - and not feared - by the world.
In a nationwide broadcast address on the Independence Day holiday Yeltsin said that for the first time in 80 years, international recognition of Russia's authority is based not on fear, as it was under Stalin and others, but because of its democratic achievements.
Yeltsin said that Russia has made great progress in the past seven years, and that its democratic achievements during that time have earned it international respect. The Russian leader also acknowledged that the country suffers economic problems, but said Russia is finding its feet. He said a great power is not heaps of weapons and powerless subjects, but one which is active and has independent people.
During his address today, Yeltsin also proposed renaming the Independence Day holiday as 'Russia's Day.'
Today was originally named Independence Day on June 12, 1990, when the Soviet-era Russian Council of People's Deputies declared the sovereignty of Russia. A year later, Yeltsin was elected first president of the Russian Federation in a democratic election, months before the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Small groups of Communists and nationalists marked the holiday today with protests in central Moscow. They carried signs calling for Yeltsin's resignation and denounced what they called Russia's dependence on the West.