Boris Yeltsin, spouse come to Tatarstan at republican leaders' invitation

The first Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his spouse, Naina, have arrived in Kazan, the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan. They were greeted at the city's international airport by president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaymiev and his spouse.

The couple is going to stay in Kazan for five days. According to Yeltsin's Chief of Protocol, Vladimir Shevchenko, an extensive cultural program has been prepared for the VIP guests. Among other sites, they are to visit the Kazan State University, the Kazan Kremlin, the Our Lady's monastery of Raif founded in 1613, and a modern residential area.

December 20, Boris and Naina Yeltsin will take part in a gala to mark the opening of the republic's as yet largest entertainment complex, the Pyramid.

Mr. and Mrs. Yeltsin will return to Moscow in the morning of December 21.

"A lot in my life has links to Kazan, since my early years," the ex-president revealed to this RIA Novosti correspondent at the airport. He said he could remember the city from the moment his father had been arrested in 1934 (Boris Yeltsin's father and uncle, both aircraft builders, were sentenced by the local KGB branch to three years of correctional labor in Siberian gulags for alleged sabotage and opposition to the Soviet regime). He went on to recall his subsequent visits to the city, while he was a college student and then after he took the federal presidency.

Yeltsin said he was very glad to again find himself in Kazan, after six years of absence. He remarked jokingly that now that he was no longer in public office, he could take time to do the sightseeing.

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