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#9 - JRL 7070
BBC Monitoring
Russian ex-president travels to roots
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 19 Feb 03

[Presenter] The first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, flew to Yekaterinburg today. Due homage was rendered to the ex-president, though his visit was unofficial. [Sverdlovsk Region] governor [Eduard] Rossel met him in the airport. The headmaster of the Urals Polytechnic University [which Yeltsin once graduated from] put on a red gown to greet the guest. Our special correspondent Andrey Kartavtsev has more.

[Correspondent] This morning all local radio stations broadcast a good news: traffic will not be halted in Yekaterinburg. The authorities decided that a simple escort consisting of several police cars would be enough, so that Yeltsin's visit did not leave an unpleasant taste in motorists' mouths.

Yeltsin's plane landed in his native place in the midday. While Yeltsin was descending and saying hello to governor Rossel, a Communist rally was going on in the centre of Yekaterinburg. Young radicals from the local branch of the Communist party sentenced a spineless effigy to death. They wanted to burn it, but then decided to hang the effigy as it could be used many times. When Communists were rallying against the war in Iraq last weekend, the effigy was portraying George Bush. Today it re-appeared in a new role.

[An unidentified woman, speaking to camera] Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin] probably expects a warm welcome in his native city. He is mistaken.

[Correspondent] The youth in the Urals Polytechnic University met Boris Yeltsin in quite a different way. They cheered him with shouts as if he was a pop star. Yeltsin came to award scholarships bearing his name to best students. Forty-five students and five postgraduates will receive R2,000 per month instead of R300.

[Yeltsin] This is not a very big sum of money, but R2,000 per month is the highest scholarship in Russia.

[Correspondent] After finishing his speech devoted to the importance of higher education and true student friendship, Yeltsin asked the audience to ask him any questions but nobody took the opportunity. The programme went on. Olga Kozhukhova sang the aria of Yelena from "The Sicilian Supper" by Guiseppe Verdi specially for Boris Yeltsin. The third-year student from the radio physics department, a brilliant scholar and talented singer, also received a Yeltsin scholarship.

[Kozhukhova, speaking to camera] I know that he attended all first nights in our opera theatre when he was a party secretary, so I decided to sing a classical aria for him.

[Correspondent] Visiting his alma mater is one of the main points of Yeltsin's trip. Tomorrow he will go to Nizhniy Tagil, where tank manoeuvres and a shooting exercise will be organized specially for him. He will stay in Yekaterinburg and Sverdlovsk Region for three days.

[Video shows Yeltsin in the airport and in the university]

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