Boris Yeltsin (left) meeting with Bill Clinton in the Kremlin on September 1, 1998 (epa)
CLINTON ON YELTSIN: U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to reporters in Washington on December 31, 1999, shortly after hearing that Boris Yeltsin had resigned. Here are some of his comments:
"[Boris Yeltsin's] lasting achievement has been dismantling the communist system and creating a vital, democratic process within a constitutional framework. The fact that Prime Minister [Vladimir] Putin assumes responsibility today as acting president, in accordance with the constitution, is the latest example of President Yeltsin's achievement."
"The relationship between the United States and Russia under President Yeltsin has produced genuine progress for both our people. Five thousand strategic nuclear weapons have been dismantled. Our nuclear weapons are no longer targeted at each other. We have worked together to eliminate nuclear weapons from the other states of the former Soviet Union."
"Well, I liked him because he was always very [direct] with me. He always did exactly what he said he would do, and he was willing to take chances to try to improve our relationship, to try to improve democracy in Russia."
"I liked him because I think he genuinely deplored communism. He lived with it, he saw it, and he believed that democracy was the best system. I think it was in every fiber of his being."
"We had our arguments. We had our fights. We had our genuine disagreements about our national interests from time to time, but I think that the Russian people were well served to have a leader who honestly believed that their votes ought to determine who is running the show in Russia and what the future direction of the country should be."