Russian Leaders Mourn Mandela's Passing
Published: December 7, 2013 (Issue # 1789)
Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and leader of the anti-apartheid movement, has died at the age of 95 after a long illness, South African President Jacob Zuma said.
"Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Zuma said. “Our people have lost a father."
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who preached reconciliation between South Africa's white ruling minority and its black population, was one of the world's most esteemed leaders.
Since the announcement of Mandela's passing on Thursday, current and former heads of state, politicians, and social activists from around the world have expressed their sympathy and regret at the loss of the iconic leader.
President Vladimir Putin sent a telegraph to President Zuma on Friday morning, expressing condolences and admiration at Mandela's strength of character.
“A brave man and a wise leader, Nelson Mandela rightfully earned great respect at home and high prestige abroad,” Putin wrote. “The memory of Nelson Mandela will forever remain in the hearts of millions of Russians.”
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who had had cordial relations with Mandela, expressed condolences to the people of South Africa.
"I think there will be people who will live through great difficulties and come out on the road of freedom on a global scale, and these people will remember Mandela,” Gorbachev said. “I express my condolences to those for whom he gave his life — his country, friends and fellow freedom fighters. The memory of Mandela will remain with all of us, and it will forever remain in history.”
Current Russian politicians have also expressed their admiration for Mandela's courageous actions and determination.
"Mandela was the last politician on earth to reach his goals through the non-violent protest of a free individual, by the calm courage of a political prisoner," said Mikhail Margelov, special presidential envoy for cooperation with Africa, Interfax reported. "His name belongs with that of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdel Nasser and other great leaders of 20th century national liberation movements."
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