Vladimir Putin: Dear friends, dear Lyudmila Borisovna [Mr Sobchak’s widow],
For the first time in modern Russia’s history a monument has been erected to one of the most active and energetic founders of our new country.
I consider it symbolic that the statue to Anatolii Aleksandrovich Sobchak is unveiled today, the Day of Russia. On the national holiday of the country that he sincerely and deeply loved and for whom he did a great deal during the most difficult period of its development. And in the hearts of the citizens of our country he will always remain a brilliant representative of that generation of politicians who struggled to create a really new and democratic regime in Russia.
The strength of Anatolii Aleksandrovich’s personality and his talent as an enlightener made him a very distinctive, charismatic leader. And his erudition and intelligence consistently made him an exemplary and true People’s Deputy. He expressed ideas that corresponded to the hopes and thoughts of millions of people. And in his person he combined a lawyer’s professionalism and an innovator’s courage.
It was on this very day, 15 years ago, that Anatolii Aleksandrovich Sobchak became mayor of St Petersburg. He did everything he could to enable this city to participate once again in Russia’s, Europe’s and the whole world’s political, economic and cultural life. And he also cared about preserving the unique way of life and spirit of northern Palmira.
Being first is always difficult. But it is even more difficult to take on responsibility during a transition period when everything is really new. When there is nobody to consult and there is no time to wait. And Anatolii Aleksandrovich Sobchak had to learn, including from his own experience and sometimes from his own mistakes.
Sobchak always remained true to himself, to his principles. And he truly understood what priorities there are in life. However, such energetic, extraordinary people usually are put to great tests. He was a person who had the courage to live up to his convictions. And of course he met with difficulties and problems. Unfortunately, Anatolii Aleksandrovich Sobchak was not an exception to this rule.
Anatolii Aleksandrovich had a truly big heart and soul. I worked with him for quite a long time and I remember these years of joint work. They were very important and significant years for me. At the time I was still surprised and thought to myself: how can this be so? This person is fifteen years older than me but judging by his experience, his spirit he is much younger. He is a romantic. It was surprising. In any case, for me it was really surprising and made me admire him. He was an absolutely integral person and a deeply honest person. And this could not but reflect on his activities. I am very happy that today I am present at this event, at the opening of this monument. I am convinced that all those who, like me worked with Anatolii Aleksandrovich Sobchak, regret him.
Thank you very much for your attention.