The message from the Russian President said, in part:
“I would like to express my deep and sincere condolences on behalf of the Russian leadership and all Russians on the grievous loss suffered by the people of a friendly nation, Syria: the untimely death of President Hafez Assad.
“Gone is a man who played a historic role in the development of Syria. Hafez Assad, who for many years was the unchallenged leader of the Syrian Arab Republic, earned great and well-earned prestige all over the world.
“Hafez Assad was one of the most vivid and outstanding political personalities of our time.
“In Russia, Hafez Assad was well known as a friend of our country, one who had done a lot to develop Russian-Syrian cooperation.
“We share the feelings of grief experienced by those near and dear to Hafez Assad and convey our sympathies to them.”