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Yeltsin Praises Putin's Performance
December 30, 2001

MOSCOW (AP) - Boris Yeltsin sometimes disagrees with his hand-picked successor, President Vladimir Putin, but Yeltsin said the two years since he left office have proven he found the right person for the job.

In a television interview broadcast Saturday evening, Yeltsin also said his health is good and that the terrorist attacks on the United States have caused many in the world to wake up to post-Cold War reality.

``Many have opened their eyes after Sept. 11 and know where the main danger lies,'' Yeltsin told RTR state television's newsmagazine program Zerkalo in a taped interview. ``The main danger isn't Russia, or the evil empire as it was called. The main danger is world terrorism.''

Appearing relatively healthy with neat white hair and dressed casually in a blue sweater, the 70-year-old Yeltsin nonetheless mumbled slightly over his words and spoke with a very deliberate pace - lacking much of the dash he once displayed as Russia's leader.

Speaking of a visit earlier this month to a Berlin hospital - five years after a major heart bypass operation - Yeltsin boasted that doctors said his condition was ``sehr gut'' - ``very good'' in German.

``I feel much better this year,'' he said. ``There is not the tension and stress that I had every minute when I was president.''

Yeltsin said he has no regrets about his surprise decision to resign on New Year's Eve 1999 and turn over the presidency to Putin, who was then elected. He said he meets monthly with Putin, whom he described as ``honest, pure and democratically minded with a moral backbone.''

``We may have disagreements on appointments, some other problems, but I feel my responsibility as a first president is that I must tell him about it,'' Yeltsin said.

Putin is ``a fully rounded leader of the country and that's why he enjoys respect in the country and in the world, and I respect him,'' he said.

Despite his keeping up with Putin, Yeltsin said he planned to keep the low profile he has mostly maintained since leaving office. ``I don't want to play the role of a public politician,'' he said.

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